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WGU Advancement March 2021 Bulletin

Donor Spotlight: Matt West

Matt West is a two-time WGU graduate from St. Louis, Missouri who received a B.S. in Marketing Management in 2018 and a M.S. in Management and Leadership in 2019. He received scholarships from WGU during both of his programs to support his academic journeys. Because of the support he received as a student, Matt felt compelled to give back after graduating. He has made contributions to the Fellow Night Owl Scholarship and the Emergency Aid Fund to support current WGU students in need. “I was inspired to give back to WGU because I’ve seen the difference it’s made in my own life and I believe education is the key to one’s future,” said Matt.

Thanks to the university’s accessibility and competency-based model, Matt has inspired some of his friends to follow in his footsteps and enroll at WGU as well. As someone who grew up in rural Missouri, Matt understands the value of access to higher education in underserved populations. By giving back, he has the opportunity to help other Night Owls across the country soar. 

In addition to being a valued donor, Matt continues to stay involved with WGU by being a dedicated advocate and engaging with the alumni community. You can learn more about Matt’s WGU experience by listening to episode 11 of the WGU Alumni Podcast

Donor Impact: The WGU Student Emergency Aid Fund

Twelve months ago, WGU did not have a designated fund in place for non-tuition-related student emergencies. But in the early spring of 2020, after COVID-19 emerged and many WGU students notified faculty and staff about personal implications due to the pandemic, the WGU Student Emergency Aid Fund was promptly established. By the end of 2020, more than $157,000 had been contributed to the Fund thanks to support from WGU students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends. Thanks to donor-raised funds and commitments from the University, WGU helped more than 4,500 students receive emergency aid support in 2020 and continues to provide assistance today.

Like most aspects of the WGU experience, distributing emergency aid to students in need is also done in an innovative and student-centric manner. Early last year, WGU Labs, the research and development arm of WGU, partnered with Edquity - the first emergency aid and social services referral technology platform for college students. Their partnership accelerated in the wake of the pandemic and with support from the WGU Labs engineering team, Edquity was able to quickly create a simplified application process to enable eligible students to request and receive emergency aid funds within 48 hours as opposed to several days or weeks in a traditional application process. 

In the months following the launch of the platform, thousands of emergency aid requests have been fulfilled. The information collected around those students' outcomes and results have been noteworthy.

  • 83% of WGU Student Emergency Aid Fund recipients were from historically underserved populations (first-generation college students, students of color, low-income students, and students from rural areas).
  • 77% of Emergency Aid Fund recipients were women.
  • Less than six months after the Fund’s launch, 10% of recipients had already graduated from WGU.
  • Results from the Emergency Aid Fund recipient survey indicated that WGU students who received aid reported stronger feelings of institutional support than students who did not receive or apply for aid.

Partner Spotlight: Dominion Energy

headshot of Craig Wagstaff, Senior VP & General Manager for Western Distribution, Dominion Energy Craig Wagstaff, Senior Vice President & General Manager for Western Distribution, Dominion Energy

Since 1999, Dominion Energy has contributed annually to Western Governors University. Indeed, 21 years ago the company provided the founding gift of $50,000 to create an endowment fund that has provided ongoing support for the university’s operations and program development.

That same year, Dominion Energy contributed $6,500 to fund a scholarship in the WGU master's program in learning and technology. It was designed for teachers in K-12 education who were using technology, or wanted to enhance their use of technology, in the classroom.

Jump forward two decades-plus, and Dominion Energy is still providing financial support to WGU. Last year, for example, Dominion Energy gave $17,515 to help nine Utah students across the state, from North Logan to Hurricane, achieve their educational goals.

But Dominion Energy’s relationship doesn’t end with annual scholarship funding. Some Dominion Energy employees have received, or are currently receiving, their educations at WGU. Since 2009, WGU has had 20 graduates who worked at the company while they were attending school. And as of January 2021, 15 current students enrolled in WGU are employed by Dominion Energy – 11 of whom are Utah residents.

“Education is the ticket to job satisfaction and success,” said Craig Wagstaff, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Western Distribution for Dominion Energy. “The reward for learning is knowledge gathered and the opportunity to put that education to work in the marketplace. WGU provides the tools students need for workplace advancement and an improved standard of living. We’re pleased we can help make that happen.”

Night Owls Unite on April 21

Night Owls Unite April 21 2021

Save the date! For the first time in WGU’s history, the University will host a Giving Day on April 21, 2021.

WGU Giving Day is a 24-hour day of philanthropy for the Night Owl community to join forces and support WGU students by making contributions to emergency aid and scholarship funds. Our theme this year is Night Owls Unite!

You can join the celebration early by becoming a WGU Giving Day Ambassador. To become an ambassador for this historic milestone in WGU history, please send us an email at sharing your interest. 

More details about WGU Giving Day will be shared on our website, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages soon so please make sure to follow us for updates. We look forward to your generous support!

WGU Advancement News


FJ Management Impact Fund Scholarship

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FJ Management, Inc. is a Utah-based private holding company which manages a diverse portfolio.  Its wholly owned subsidiaries include Big West Oil, TAB Bank and Maverik convenience stores.  The family and owners of FJ Management strive to help people achieve their dreams through a scholarship program they generously established at WGU. Eligible candidates are encouraged to apply now until April 30, 2021. 


WGU Receives $4.8M Grant to Develop and Lead Character Education Curriculum

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WGU received a $4.8 million grant from The Kern Family Foundation. With the grant, WGU can integrate character education into two graduate degree programs within WGU’s Teachers College and create the Character Education Profession Learning Program (CEPL), to be housed in the Center for Professional Learning at the Teachers College. 


Lilly Endowment Grants WGU Indiana $1 Million to Propel Strategic Skill Translation Initiatives

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WGU Indiana has been granted $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, to help working students in Indiana easily transfer skills-based educational credentials into traditional higher ed student information systems through a learner owned record called an “Achievement Wallet."

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Learn what our donors helped us accomplish last fiscal year, from July 2019 to June 2020.

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