Published September 27, 2021
Melissa and Charles Daniel outside their East Brunswick, New Jersey, home. (Photo by John O'Boyle)
A couple’s endowed gift to Scarlet Promise Grants will help ensure that students for generations to come can get the aid they need to finish their degrees.
By Amy Vames
Rutgers students aren’t afraid to put in hard work to achieve their dreams. But sometimes, a life-changing event—such as the death of a family member or a job loss or, yes, a pandemic—can derail even the hardest-working students and put them at risk of not graduating. That’s where Scarlet Promise Grants can help.
The grants provide financial aid for students who need to bridge the gap between what federal and state aid programs offer and what their families can afford. The grants can also relieve short-term emergency needs. That flexibility was, in part, what appealed to Melissa and Charles Daniel and inspired them to pledge $100,000 toward the grants.
Scarlet Promise Grants can be distributed quickly when students need them most and “don’t require students to go through multiple channels to receive help,” says Melissa DC’00, SMLR’01. “That was really very appealing.”
The Daniels have supported other forms of student aid at Rutgers, including the School of Management and Labor Relations Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship. “But we wanted to do something bigger for Rutgers,” says Charles. The fact that they could endow a fund to support the grants in perpetuity was an exciting opportunity, he adds, leading them to create the Charles and Melissa Daniel Endowed Scarlet Promise Grants Fund.
“With a Scarlet Promise Grant, you can leverage the gift to help as many students as possible,” Charles says. “You’re helping all sorts of people who encounter problems or have some other issues in their life and are now looking at their whole investment in their education going down the tubes,” unless they receive some aid.
Students at the School of Management and Labor Relations, where Melissa got her master’s degree, will be prioritized for aid from the Daniels’ Scarlet Promise Grants fund. The school “is very near and dear to my heart,” Melissa says. “We heard a story about a young man whose parents were tragically killed, and he had younger siblings.” He couldn’t afford to stay in school, but an emergency grant enabled him to finish his senior year. That’s the kind of assistance and impact the Daniels want to have by supporting Scarlet Promise Grants.
“We’re very big on making sure that as many kids as possible can make it through college,” she says. “It’s the future.” Charles adds, “It wasn’t just a plain vanilla scholarship; it’s a chance to help people bridge difficulties.”
Although he did not graduate from Rutgers, Charles was raised on the Banks. His father, John C. Daniel, was a longtime economics professor at Rutgers. “A lot of our friends were Rutgers professors, and I went to Rutgers football games from the time I was 2 years old,” he says, “so I’ve always been a big Rutgers fan.”
President Jonathan Holloway’s robust commitment to Scarlet Promise Grants—beginning on his first official day in office—helped the Daniels know they were putting their money in the right place. “It’s really nice to know the president is looking out [for students] and that he put his own money toward this,” Melissa says. “It made us feel even better about our gift.”