New Scholarships Increase Funding for Students with Disabilities

A new $100,000 scholarship endowment will significantly expand educational opportunities for students with disabilities at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

The Elizabeth Lee Black and Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation Trustee Scholarship will assist students with financial need, reinforcing the college’s ongoing efforts to support a diverse student population.

The endowment was made possible by gifts from Samuel P. “Pat” Black III, chairman of the Erie Management Group, and The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, which provided scholarships to more than 200 students with disabilities at nine colleges and universities during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Black’s sister, Elizabeth Lee, suffered from spina bifida. With assistance, she was able to attend public schools until her death at age 12.

Newcombe, the daughter of a physician, was unable to attend college. A vision impairment made study difficult for her. Instead, using money from her family’s early investment in the Smith Kline pharmaceutical company, she paid for the college educations of others. The Newcombe Foundation has awarded more than $56 million in scholarship and fellowship grants since 1981.

“We at the foundation are delighted that students will benefit from the proceeds of this fund for many years to come,” Thomas Wilfrid, the foundation’s executive director, said.

During the spring semester of 2012, more than 100 Penn State Behrend students identified themselves as having disabilities. Most relied on the services offered by the college’s Office of Disability Services, including adaptive housing, software and academic testing protocols.

“These awards support completion of degrees by students with disabilities who have documented financial need, a perfect fit with Penn State’s trustee scholarship program,” said Don Birx, chancellor of Penn State Behrend.

A University match will effectively double the impact of the new endowment. Penn State matches 5 percent of the total principal or gift at the time a trustee scholarship is created, doubling the support available for student awards.

The new endowment brings Penn State Behrend closer to the goals of “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students,” a long-range campaign to make Penn State the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. Donors have contributed $6.5 million in new scholarship support since the campaign began in 2007.

To learn more, contact the development office at 814-898-6159.