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Record $16 Million Gift Doubles UMGC Endowment, Seeds Student Emergency Fund at Critical Time

Record $16 Million Gift Doubles UMGC Endowment, Seeds Student Emergency Fund at Critical Time

Bob Ludwig
By Bob Ludwig
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University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) recently received the largest single contribution to its endowment in its history and has put it to immediate use in support of the institution’s emergency relief fund for students suffering financial difficulties during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

UMUC Ventures, a nonprofit supporting organization established by UMGC to develop innovative services and products for higher education, announced plans recently to give $16 million to the university’s endowment to support scholarship programs.

The fact that the funds came at such a critical moment of financial need for many UMGC students “was fortunate timing,” said Cathy Sweet, UMGC vice president for Institutional Advancement. “We received the funds in early March,” she said, “and by the end of March we were finding a way to use them to help students in distress.”

That did not leave much time to get organized.

“We didn’t expect the timing to be this fast and furious,” said Cheryl Storie, UMGC associate vice president for Financial Aid.

The university created a system that permits students who are enrolled in courses and taking at least six credits to request assistance in the amount of $500 to help cover costs related to their education. Such assistance could be applied toward tuition, childcare, housing, and books and supplies.

“Because these funds are being used for the Covid-19 crisis, there are minimal requirements,” Storie said, adding that UMGC President Javier Miyares was specific in that regard.

“He wanted to help as many students as possible without making them jump through a lot of hoops to provide a lot of documentation.”

Response from students was instantaneous. The website developed to receive applications for assistance went live on April 9, and by day’s end on April 10, the first $100,000 from the UMUC Ventures gift had been allocated. At the request of President Miyares, an additional $200,000 was authorized—and that amount was nearly spent by April 13.

“We have received more than 475 applications and we can help 600 students with this amount of money,” Storie said.

In addition to the UMUC Ventures gift, the university is raising emergency funds through donations from students, faculty and staff. With little promotion, $15,000 has been collected in a matter of days.

The record $16 million gift from UMUC Ventures nearly doubles the university’s endowment. When Miyares created UMUC Ventures and HelioCampus, an analytics company in the Ventures portfolio, his goal was to generate revenue that could be used to build the university’s endowment and keep tuition low for Maryland residents.

“We are gratified to have played a role in supporting UMGC students during this unprecedented time,” commented Lou Pugliese, chief executive officer of UMUC Ventures. “At this transformational moment for higher education, UMUC Ventures is facilitating UMGC’s integration of entrepreneurship and innovation into university operations, and driving meaningful investment returns that benefit students. That’s the definition of a successful double bottom line investment, and a win for this new model of energizing institutional innovation.”

UMUC Ventures and HelioCampus

HelioCampus was established in 2015 when UMGC spun off the university’s analytics unit as a private company, making its technology and services available to other universities, while still serving UMGC. Since that time, the company has built an impressive national client list that includes institutions, associations, and statewide university systems.

UMUC Ventures was established in 2016 as a supporting organization for UMGC (then UMUC) and certified as a High-Impact Economic Development Activity (HIEDA) to economically benefit both the state and the University System of Maryland. HelioCampus was UMUC Ventures’ first subsidiary company and UMUC Ventures has guided its success and growth potential.

HelioCampus recently added a new majority investor, Pamlico Capital, a growth equity firm with previous investments in education measurement and research.

In addition to the $16 million gift increasing UMGC’s endowment, Pamlico Capital's investment represents a fourfold return on the University System of Maryland’s original financial contribution to launch HelioCampus.

“We can all take pride in this historic step,” Miyares said. “It is a testament to HelioCampus’s customer impact and serves to validate the bold and innovative steps that we have taken, together, to position UMGC for long-term success, serving adults in the workforce and the military in Maryland, across the country, and around the world, now and in the future.”