Published November 25, 2019

Rutgers Trustees Deliver on a Promise

Portrait of Marlene Brandt
Israel Alford, a student at Rutgers University–Newark, has been able to continue his studies, thanks to a Rutgers Assistance Grant. (Photo by John O’Boyle)

When Israel Alford’s aunt passed away last fall, he struggled to make it through the semester. “She was my backbone,” he says. Alford adds that getting a Rutgers Assistance Grant helped him avoid having to take a second job or drop out of school for a semester. “The grant covered the balance that financial aid didn’t cover,” Alford says. “It alleviated that financial burden and I was able to register for classes without having to take out a loan.”

Alford, who will graduate in 2022 from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University–Newark, is just one of about 9,000 undergraduates universitywide who received Rutgers Assistance Grants last year. Beginning in fall 2020, those grants will be known as Scarlet Promise Grants and will get a boost from an initiative to raise a $3 million endowment.

The initiative grew out of a concern by the Rutgers Board of Trustees that too many students drop out of school because of the financial burden or they graduate with significant debt. To kick off the endowment campaign, three trustees—Mary DiMartino DC’85, former chair of the board; James Dougherty RC’74, GSNB’75, chair of the board; and Ken Johnson ENG’66—are making gifts of $100,000 each.

Johnson says that he and his wife, Jackie, wanted to be among the first to make a leadership gift toward the endowment. “The need for student financial aid is enormous,” he says, “and we hope our support will allow more students to pursue a Rutgers education, which is far more valuable than its actual cost. We won’t be able to solve everything with this gift, but we hope it can make a significant difference in the lives of students. We also hope it will spur others to make a gift.”

By helping students complete their studies, Dougherty says, the university is unlocking the potential of individuals who can have a positive impact in New Jersey and around the globe. “If we only accepted people who can afford an education,” he adds, “then we’re missing out on the opportunity of unknown benefits to Rutgers, to the state, to the country, to the world.”

A correction has been made on December 2 to correct an incorrect title previously listed.

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Rutgers Assistance Grants are now known as Scarlet Promise Grants. Support this fund today.