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By Jill Spotz

For the fourth consecutive year, the Lafayette community raised $1 million for financial aid in 24 hours. This is not a feat for the faint of heart, and alumni and friends went “all in” again to make it happen. The result? More than 860 donors contributed $1,023,092 to the President’s Challenge for Financial Aid between 12:01 a.m. March 9 and midnight March 10.

In total, more than $4.6 million has been raised for financial aid through four Bring the Best one-day challenges, which are part of the larger affordability initiative—a major component of the College’s strategic direction launched in 2016. Support for financial aid is integral to enabling admission to more talented students regardless of financial need. Since adoption of the strategic direction, the College’s financial aid budget has grown more than 31% to $56.5 million in 2019-20, and Lafayette continues to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need of admitted students.

Why do alumni, parents, and friends give back?

“Financial aid unlocks access to a life-changing opportunity: a Lafayette College education,” explains Meg ’84 and Tony ’84 Rodriguez, who supported the challenge. “We are proud to know that our support has the power to, quite literally, change the entire trajectory of a deserving student’s life, opening doors for those who have often faced a lifetime of financial roadblocks. More importantly, we are inspired to know that our gift is helping to bring some of the brightest and most aspirational students to Lafayette’s campus, where they will undoubtedly contribute in countless ways to Lafayette’s robust community of learning.”

Faculty and staff joined Alison Byerly (center square) for the College’s rendition of “Hollywood Squares” in support of the President’s Challenge for Financial Aid.

As in previous years when President Alison Byerly challenged faculty and staff to lip-sync competitions, diving contests, pancake flipping, and more, this year she joined faculty and staff as the center square in “Lafayette Squares” hosted by chair of the Board of Trustees, Robert Sell ’84 who donned a leopard jacket and 70s-style wig to round out his persona. Michael Anekwe ’22 and Gina Beviglia ’22 served as student contestants and longtime sports announcer Jim Finnen was the guest announcer.

Gary Gordon, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Mathematics, signs a President’s Challenge poster during a campus event during Founder’s Week.

Additional resources for financial aid allow Lafayette to attract more talented students like biology major Elizaveta Makarova ’21 from Doylestown, Pa. Her life dream is to become a physician, but she could not afford the price tags that accompanied her acceptance letters.

“Before getting accepted to Lafayette, I did not know if I could afford college or even go at all,” explains Makarova. “But once I was accepted and saw my financial aid package, I realized I could afford it by myself. It was the first time I realized I could study biology, and I could potentially go to medical school. Going to college for me and my family was never a guarantee. It was a huge weight off my shoulders.”

As a part of the overall challenge for financial aid, funds supported the Leopard Champions Fund for student-athletes, First Women Scholarship, McDonogh Scholarship, Krivoski Student Assistance Fund, and more. More than 75% of all gifts were under $100, illustrating the collective power of philanthropy.

On campus, Lafayette celebrated the College’s founding with a Dine 3/9 dinner event and a Bring the Best themed Friday Club for faculty and staff. In addition, alumni gathered at 30 Wine 3/9 events across the country.

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