The Black Alumni Network may be Jacksonville University’s newest alumni affinity group, founded in 2020, but they have already created momentous waves of progress at their alma mater.
Motivated by a desire to help deserving minority students, as well as gratitude for the opportunities granted to him by scholarships when he attended Jacksonville, Black Alumni Network Chair Jerail Fennell ’16 wanted to find a way to give back. With the help of generous contributions from fellow alumni Dane Grey ’07, Marvin Wells ’73 and Tim Cost ’81, Fennell and the Black Alumni Network Executive Committee established a scholarship fund to help future generations of students.
“This has been a long-term goal of mine: to help students like me be able to pursue higher education without the financial burden that comes along with it,” Fennell explained. “With the hard work and determination of Black Alumni Network Executive Committee members, we devised an ambitious plan to endow our scholarship during Dolphin Dash this year.”
It takes $25,000 to fully endow a scholarship that will support itself in perpetuity. The initial gift is invested, and scholarships are awarded from the investment income, preserving the principal, so the fund continues to generate income for scholarship awards in future years.
The Black Alumni Network Challenge was the first Dolphin Dash Challenge to reach its incentive goal of obtaining gifts from 100 individual donors, which they accomplished on day two of the five-day campaign. Unlocking this goal provided $10,000 in additional funding. Throughout the week, they saw their fundraising goal inch closer and closer as gifts came in from alumni ranging from the Class of 1973 to the Class of 2020, as well as employees, friends and family members.
On the final day of the campaign, with the endowment less than $1,000 from being funded, Fennell sent a message to friend and fellow alumnus Dane Grey ’07. Grey felt equally passionate about the scholarship, and his generous contribution helped the scholarship exceed its fundraising goal.
“I couldn’t be more proud to say we will be able to award our first scholarship in the fall of 2022,” beamed Veronica Session-Fennell ’16, philanthropy coordinator for the Black Alumni Network. “We are currently working on plans for the final launch celebration of the Network when it is finally safe to do so in person.”
Now that the Black Alumni Network Scholarship is endowed, additional funds donated will allow the fund to grow and be awarded to more Dolphins in the future. You can contribute online here.
“It has been a pleasure to work with this outstanding group of alumni,” stated Chelsea Shackelford, assistant director of alumni engagement. “I can’t wait to see how this group grows and what they continue to accomplish in the coming year.”