The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, a Chicago-based philanthropic family foundation, has awarded Hobart and William Smith Colleges a $37,500 grant to support the Geneva 2020 initiative, an ongoing, collaborative effort focused on three key areas for students in the Geneva City School District: increasing graduation rates, promoting literacy and improving college readiness.
The grant, which will be matched by HWS, will benefit Geneva 2020 as it expands civic engagement and enhances support in local schools. The grant will enable Geneva 2020 to have greater focus as a structured community initiative that encompasses advising, tutoring, job shadowing, literacy training, career workshops and college-readiness programs.
“On behalf of Geneva 2020, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are grateful to receive this grant,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “The service of those committed to Geneva 2020 is deeply aligned with the tradition of philanthropy and community engagement conveyed in the life and legacy of the late Mr. McGowan. The grant will enable Geneva 2020 to further cultivate efforts that support Geneva’s youth as they work toward graduation and prepare for their futures.”
Earlier this month, William G. McGowan Charitable Fund Trustee Marianne Rosica-Brand presented the award at a meeting with Gearan, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Martha Bond and Director of Leadership Giving Ruth C. Benedict.
Established in 1992, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund is a philanthropic foundation that perpetuates William McGowan’s (1927-1992) tradition of compassionate philanthropy and ethical leadership. McGowan was a pioneering entrepreneur and the motivating force behind the success of telecommunications company, MCI. Today, the Fund preserves McGowan’s legacy; and it promotes, nurtures, and funds initiatives in three areas: community initiatives for those most vulnerable; education; and healthcare and medical research.
Rooted in the collective impact model, Geneva 2020 works to ensure that students from low-income households in the community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college. The program has already helped move the high school graduation rate from 70 percent in 2010 to 82 percent in 2013, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2013.
During the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund grant period, the Geneva 2020 initiative will focus on several key developments. A part-time Geneva 2020 program coordinator will be hired to help enhance community-wide engagement. In addition, the initiative’s efforts will center on continuing to secure commitments for time, talent and support from local stakeholders. The Geneva 2020 efforts will partner with the Geneva Reads program to promote the importance of early awareness of the “summer slide” when students aren’t in school. Work will continue with the Geneva High School guidance department to analyze data from the ninth grade entry interviews to evaluate levels of college awareness and career possibilities.
The awarding of the grant also coincides with recent national attention for the program. In early December, Gearan was invited by The White House to discuss the success of Geneva 2020 with other national leaders in higher education in Washington, D.C., for the White House College Opportunity Day of Action, a summit focusing on efforts to expand college access for underserved and low-income students.
In addition, the Colleges were recognized nationally in December as one of only four institutions named as finalists for the President’s Award for Education Community Service in a recent Honor Roll of nearly 800 colleges and universities considered for the prestigious recognition.