Couple creates endowment for economically disadvantaged, underprepared

Susan Burlingame
January 07, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Both Dan and Amy Clements were raised by parents who believed in helping people who are less fortunate and giving everyone, regardless of background, the same opportunities to succeed.

Those views became part of the Clements’ DNA.

“We have always been big believers in the importance of education,” said Dan, a Penn State political science alumnus. “The trouble is, there are enormously smart people out there who do not have the economic wherewithal to afford a university education.”

Clements said there are also students whose college preparation was less than stellar as well as many who might not have a 3.5 grade-point average but have great potential to succeed. “I was one of those students,” he said. “If given the opportunity, these students could benefit from a Penn State education and ultimately become both successful and generous. Penn State needs to do more to attract and support students like these.”

Several years ago, the Clementses heard about a student in this very situation. From an economically depressed area of Cincinnati and the first in her family to graduate from high school, the student could not afford a Penn State education. In keeping with their values, Dan and Amy decided to help by covering her tuition and other expenses. Despite the Clements’ assistance, however, their student did not graduate, said Dan, “for many of the same reasons others in the same circumstances fail to graduate: lack of a support structure at home and at school.”

Though their foray was ultimately unsuccessful, Dan and Amy did not regret their decision to help. In fact, they recently decided to give more students the opportunity to succeed by pledging $150,000 to establish the Dan and Amy Clements Open Doors Undergraduate Scholarship. The couple took advantage of a generous 2:1 matching program previously available as part of the University’s campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” The match tripled the value of the endowment to $450,000 and made some of the proceeds available immediately. At least 10 students have already been assisted by the endowment.

First preference for the scholarship goes to students enrolled or planning to enroll in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and who are participating in RaiseMe, one of five Open Doors programs the University has established to help students afford Penn State and stay on track through graduation. RaiseMe helps students from Pennsylvania high schools serving low-income areas or students enrolled in the federal free lunch program. By meeting goals that lay a strong foundation for future studies, such as “A”-level coursework, perfect attendance, and other factors, students can earn college scholarships.

“I grew up in a middle-class family and neither needed nor received financial assistance to attend Penn State; but it’s important to me, to us, to help those who are not as fortunate,” said Dan, whose Penn State education buoyed him to law school and a successful career as a trial lawyer. Amy received some financial assistance through scholarships and graduated from St. Joseph’s University (then St. Joseph’s College) with a degree in English.

“We believe in a liberal arts education,” remarked Dan, adding that the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts has become a national leader in research and education. “Many corporations and professions find liberal arts graduates to be excellent employees because they understand the world and are better thinkers and communicators. This scholarship represents our belief in the quality of Penn State. It will help the University become more diverse, and it will give more people who are not necessarily at the top of their class the opportunity to be educated at a first-rate institution.”

“We are firm believers in helping those who have not had the advantages we have — educationally, financially, societally,” said Amy. “It makes us feel great to help students who might not have gone to college at all.”

“On behalf of the College of the Liberal Arts, I would like to thank Dan and Amy Clements for their generous support to provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged students who are underprepared but have great potential,” added Richard Page, the college’s associate dean for undergraduate studies. “We share the Clements’ commitment to the future success of students regardless of background and greatly appreciate their belief in the value of a liberal arts education at Penn State.”

The Clements’ gift helps Penn State as it seeks to fulfill its mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections. "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" focuses on three key imperatives: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research, and outreach, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of the Liberal Arts is able to offer scholarships to deserving students, create life-shaping experiences, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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Last Updated February 27, 2019