Graceland Jumpstarts $2 Million Campaign to Help Students and Families During Pandemic with $400,000 Commitment

Young woman wearing a mask

In an effort to help students and families affected by the financial struggles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Graceland University launched its $2 million fundraising campaign, Carrying Our Community Through COVID-19. In this time of high unemployment and uncertainty, incoming Graceland students face many financial obstacles that may impact their ability to further their education. The university and its generous alumni and friends want to make sure these challenges don’t keep these students from pursuing a Graceland education.

To jumpstart the campaign, Graceland received a four-year $400,000 commitment from former Graceland Board of Trustees Chair Ken McClain ’79, principal shareholder at law firm Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.

“Graceland has been an integral part of my life since I was a young child,” said McClain. “My uncle used to send me Graceland shirts, and the four years I spent in Lamoni were the best time of my life.”

As a former board of trustees chair and longtime generous supporter of Graceland, McClain knows the value of scholarships, and he has provided opportunities to hundreds of students over the past decades through his generosity to the university. “Providing scholarships can enlarge and magnify the gifts of individuals, bridging the gap for students to receive additional federal- and state-provided funds,” he said. “I like to believe that for every dollar I give, another four dollars can potentially go to the university through other programs.”

President Patricia H. Draves said, “We are so grateful for Ken’s gift to launch this important campaign for Graceland students. His commitment to providing a scholarship pathway for students to the university we love is a shining example of the type of alumni Graceland produces and will continue to produce thanks to his generosity.”

McClain believes the generosity of Graceland supporters and alumni is critical to helping the university weather the pandemic, saying, “Graceland has survived many crises over the years – the Great Depression, both world wars, the economic crash of 2007-08 – and it will continue to survive as long as its generous alumni stand in support.”

Graceland has met the challenge of the pandemic by keeping four priorities in mind:

  • the health and safety of Graceland students, faculty, staff and communities;
  • student engagement and experiences;
  • high quality online and other student educational experiences; and
  • Graceland’s sustainability, focusing on enrollment and financial health.

The Carrying Our Community Through COVID-19 campaign will continue to keep these priorities in mind and will allocate 90% of the funds directly to support scholarships for students. The remaining 10% will help Graceland offset the costs of implementing new safety measures related to the pandemic.

Through this campaign, the university hopes to ensure that the many students and families impacted by the pandemic can access funding that makes Graceland’s top-notch education more affordable during this stressful time. Additionally, Graceland has committed that all fundraising efforts held during the 2020-21 academic year – from the annual golf tournament in September to honor class gifts during the rescheduled homecoming celebration in March – will go toward this important campaign.

For McClain, it all comes back to students. 

“Without students on campus, Graceland doesn’t function,” he said. “Money for scholarships can help sustain the health of our community. I have a deep commitment to ensuring Graceland continues to remain the vibrant community for my six grandchildren, who I hope to send to Graceland in several years.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Graceland has focused on fiscal responsibility. The university received federal funds through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to help with students’ immediate needs and acquired Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) funds to assist with the financial shortfall that came with this crisis. 

While Gracelanders across the globe are facing their own challenges and struggles amid the pandemic, this campaign aims to ensure that students who plan to enroll for Fall 2020 but have expressed concern about their ability to afford Graceland’s education at this time can feel more financially secure in their decision.

McClain challenged other alumni to meet the moment, quoting Luke 12:45, “To those whom much has been given, much is required.” He then quoted writer Dorothea Brande, “Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.”