Donor Contributions Make a Difference for GW Students

Gifts and commitments to the university from July 2019 through June 2020 total more than $102 million.

July 27, 2020

The George Washington University community has come together to support each other over the past year, especially in recent months in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Division of Development and Alumni Relations ‘newly-issued  annual impact report, more than 18,000 donors contributed over $102 million in gifts and commitments to the university from July 2019 through June 2020. Those financial contributions translate to a tangible difference in the lives of GW students.

“Despite a very challenging year and unprecedented changes to the higher education landscape, our donors came through,” said Donna Arbide, vice president of development and alumni relations. “Their unwavering generosity and commitment to building a better world is truly gratifying. These gifts make a real difference in the lives of our students and scholars. This report not only shares our heartfelt thanks, but highlights a few of the many individuals and programs that have benefited from philanthropy.”

Amid the impact of COVID-19, the GW Cares Student Assistance Fund helps GW students who have been managing unexpected hardship. Chris Zuniga, a junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, was one of more than 750 students who received aid from the fund. When he and his family were financially struggling due to delays in unemployment benefits and at risk of losing their home in New Jersey, the GW Cares fund helped support them.

GW Giving: Your Impact from GW Alumni and Development on Vimeo.

Mr. ­Zuniga said that he is grateful for those who supported the fund that aided him and his family in their time of need.

“The funds received are enough to cover three months’ rent, which is an immense amount of time,” Mr. Zuniga said. “The GW Cares Student Assistance Fund really came through at the right time to help us amid this pandemic.”

The GW community also continues to come together to help each other as seen through the Luther Rice Society Advisory Council’s dedication to philanthropy. The giving circle of GW alumni and parents makes a gift of more than $30,000 annually to areas across the university, and this year they selected GW Alternative Breaks, Career Quest and support for first-generation students.

Donor contributions also included a gift to GW’s student-run food pantry, the Store. School of Media and Public Affairs professor Steven V. Roberts, the J.B. and M.C. Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs, and his late wife Cokie Roberts, teamed with his former students Ted B.A. ’03 and Meredith Segal, B. Accy. ’05, to endow the Roberts & Segal Fund for Food Security, which allows the Store to offer broader food options to its more than 850 student visitors each semester.

Gifts contributed to academic aid for GW students as well, from the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships & Research (CUFR) funding independent student research projects to the Power & Promise Fund for Student Aid providing scholarships for students in need. In total, donors contributed more than $12.8 million this year to the Power & Promise Fund’s financial aid efforts.

Sabrina Davis, B.A. ’20, was one of the students able to take advantage of a GW education because of the fund. She was able to use her passion for social justice to pursue a degree in political science while focusing on how race influences politics. Ms. Davis, who is the first in her family to graduate from a four-year institution, plans to join the Peace Corps in 2021 as a volunteer teaching English and literacy in Togo.

She credits GW with providing her the opportunity to make a difference and recognizes that there are many students like her who do not get those same chances without financial assistance.

“Students from less-affluent backgrounds are often not recognized for the hard work we put into school, so it was a relief to get that recognition and be able to attend an institution where I would be challenged academically,” Ms. Davis said.


Those interested in learning more about the impact of GW contributions should visit, and those looking to  contribute should visit

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GW Cares Student Assistance Fund supports students with financial hardships, including those related to COVID-19.