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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Supporting Smith May 13, 2019

Smith Announces $75 Million Scholarship Initiative

group photo
Jackie Richardson ’21, Grace Irungu ’20, Madeline Turner ’21, and Nancy Jung ’20

Just as Patience Kayira ’20 was about to start applying for colleges, her family was hit with an unexpected financial crisis when her father lost his job.

Suddenly reliant on a single income, the family made some cutbacks and Kayira wondered if attending Smith would even be possible. “I didn’t think that it would be,” she says now.

But Smith stepped up with a generous financial aid award, easing her family’s financial burden. “The grant I received made all the difference,” Kayira says. “It has made it possible for me to study at Smith with an ease of mind. Had I not received it, I would not have been able to attend Smith.”

Kayira’s story is not unique. According to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, nearly eight out of 10 families cannot afford college. That’s why Smith College is launching a $75 million fundraising initiative to boost scholarship support to students, ensuring that a Smith education remains accessible and affordable to students from a range of backgrounds.

The fundraising effort, “Here For Every Voice,” is a comprehensive campaign that seeks to secure immediate-use gifts through The Smith Fund, as well as planned gifts and endowed funds, the income from which will benefit Smith students in perpetuity.

“There is much more work to do to dismantle the financial barriers to education that continue to exist for so many exceptional students,” President Kathleen McCartney says. “Lack of means should never prevent a student from going to college. We have a responsibility as an institution committed to inclusion and equity to level the playing field so that every student, no matter their background, fulfills their educational dreams and aspirations.”    

Raising funds for scholarships benefits Smith in numerous ways, McCartney says. “Access leads to excellence,” she says. “We can admit the best and brightest students, provide incredible opportunities to every student, and prepare our graduates in every way possible to make the change the world needs.”

The “Here For Every Voice” initiative comes at a time when a Smith education is in high demand and the need for aid is greater than ever. In the past six years, Smith has experienced a 31% increase in applications for admission. “This is exactly what we want,” says Audrey Smith, vice president for enrollment. “A steady rise in interest in Smith from students from all socioeconomic backgrounds speaks clearly to our reputation as a leading liberal arts college.”

McCartney indicated early in her presidency that financial aid would be among her top priorities, citing her own experience as the first in her family to attend college thanks to scholarship support. Currently, more than 67% of students receive financial aid from Smith. In the year ahead, Smith is expected to award close to $80 million in aid.

“Here For Every Voice” has already raised close to $32 million. Beth Raffeld, senior vice president for alumnae relations and development, attributes the strong momentum to the belief among Smith graduates in the ability of a Smith education to change lives.

“The Smith experience is so powerful our graduates want to make sure that every exceptional student has access to all that Smith offers,” Raffeld says. “You can always count on Smithies to step up and support other Smithies. That has been the tradition for the past 148 years.”

Madeline Turner ’21 says her financial aid package opened a world of experiences she never thought would be possible. An app she helped develop that makes it easier for consumers to make more ethical purchasing decisions garnered special recognition at last year’s Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs. Already, she is thinking of ways to use her experience to inspire others.

“Financial aid empowers me to give back to the communities I came from,” Turner says. “As a young woman from rural Ohio, as a farm kid, it provides me with an opportunity that few of the people around me are able to access.”

The success of “Here For Every Voice” depends on the participation of the entire Smith community, Raffeld says. To learn more about the initiative, visit smith.edu/access.