The College's third annual Evening for Scholarships raised more than $241,000 for student scholarships, the highest amount since the first event was held in 2010 to help make an Elmhurst education accessible to all of its students.
"The number of people coming together to support this cause and raise money for students is so inspiring," said Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray, explaining that 98 percent of Elmhurst students depend on financial aid.
"This event really makes a difference because it generates direct scholarship contributions," said Ed Momkus, trustee and event co-chair. He added that because of the event's low overhead cost, accomplished with in-kind donations and volunteer support, 90 percent of all proceeds from the gala go directly to scholarship funds.
The dinner, held on March 17 in the Frick Center, celebrated not only student scholarships but also the accomplishments of community leaders, with the presentation of Leadership Awards to those who make a significant impact on the community and embody the values of the College. Mercy Home for Boys and Girls received the organization award, for its residential and ongoing care programs for youth in crisis. Elmhurst resident Mark Dyer received the individual award for his volunteer work with the emergency aid provider ShelterBox International.
Elmhurst students Francesca DeFeo ’12 and Jim Cullen ’13, who hosted the night's events, emphasized the importance of financial aid in their own Elmhurst Experience. "I've had access to a great education, and I was able to live on campus for two years because of scholarships," said DeFeo, a senior majoring in communications.
Cullen, a junior majoring in supply chain management, expressed his gratitude to those who support student scholarships—including the night's guests, who he said inspire him "to pay it forward" once he graduates.
"All of these people have come out tonight to support the College and see their investment in its education," he said. "My experience at Elmhurst has been life-changing, to say the least, and it's because of people like tonight's attendees and their generosity."
President Ray considered DeFeo and Cullen living examples of what the College's education provides. "The way they spoke reflects such maturity and growth," he said. "I'm proud Elmhurst College had something to do with that."
The night's Leadership Award recipients also reflected Elmhurst's values and commitment to the community, using their acceptance speeches to articulate the missions of their organizations.
"Although it's a big honor to receive this award, it's all about the recognition of ShelterBox and how it helps those in need," said Dyer, who has volunteered with the disaster-relief organization since 2007, delivering emergency supplies to global disaster victims in countries like Haiti and Colombia.
Mercy Home President and CEO Father Scott Donahue acknowledged the value of his organization's partnership with the College, which includes many on-campus events for Mercy Home's high school-age children.
"The campus has really introduced our kids to the possibilities of higher education and given them an attainable dream," he said, echoing the night's main mission: to make a quality education accessible to all.