Kenyon women drive creation of new women’s scholarships

Following celebration of 50 years of women at Kenyon, the alumnae-led Kenyon Women Giving Back series keeps the focus on the role of women at Kenyon.

From the moment the first female student came to Kenyon in 1969, women have made a lasting impression on the Hill. Now, recognizing how women have shaped Kenyon’s history, women donors have led the creation of two new scholarships to support today’s students and encourage other Kenyon women to take leadership roles in its future.  

The Kenyon Women’s Endowed Scholarship was created with a lead gift from Nina Freedman ’77 H’92, a member of the Kenyon Board of Trustees, and a member of Bloomberg LP’s Corporate Philanthropy & Engagement Team. “There is great joy in having been part of the early chapters to be written about the impact of women at Kenyon and, it is a privilege to be able to make a gift to help create this scholarship for Kenyon women today who will carry our legacy forward,” said Freedman

The Kenyon Women’s Annual Scholarship has also been created, for gifts at all levels that go to current year scholarship needs rather than being invested as a permanent funding source as part of the College’s endowment. Last fiscal year, 121 donors — mostly women — combined to give $134,127 to this scholarship in its first year. 

Una Fogarty ’90 helped drive that effort with a gift of $50,000 and with her efforts to involve her classmates in giving during their reunion year. Although she had been a longtime supporter of Kenyon and other causes with her husband, the gift was her first major solo philanthropic effort.

“Making the gift was a little like putting my stake in the ground and putting my head up high. It felt great, I kind of wished I’d done it earlier,” Fogarty said.

Fogarty, who worked at Goldman Sachs for 16 years and went on to found the women-owned real estate development company Opis Partners, acknowledged that her initial instinct had been not to announce her gift, but she recognized the role her gift could play in motivating other women. “I’m not really a shrinking violet and I realized if I feel uncomfortable about it, how many other women are out there who feel the same way?” she said.

Fogarty is hardly alone. Research into women’s philanthropy habits shows that women give differently than men and for different reasons and can be less inclined to publicize their support. Kenyon Women Giving Back, a new alumnae-led event series at Kenyon, seeks to address the different ways women give, by celebrating and elevating their contributions to broaden support among alumnae.

“When I heard there was an effort, I was really happy to be a part of,” said Fogarty, who is serving as an ambassador for the initiative. “First off, it feels really great to give and I’d like other women to enjoy that as well and, secondly, it’s really great for the College and students today — and I think women givers are an untapped resource for Kenyon.”

Recent College data suggests that although women are more engaged with Kenyon than their male counterparts, they do not lead with philanthropy as strongly as men. In the current Our Path Forward campaign, roughly one-third of giving is coming from women, although the balance is shifting. The Kenyon Women Giving Back initiative seeks to find ways to connect with female donors in a way that Kenyon has not historically done on a wide enough scale but is now seeing with increasing frequency.

“I’m thrilled to help encourage and support philanthropic leadership among Kenyon women,” Freedman said. “Our 50 year history at Kenyon is filled with love and loyalty. As we move forward together we will continue to define our crucial role in the college’s future.”  

The recently concluded 2019-20 fiscal year included three significant gifts from women to Kenyon’s new Gordon Keith Chalmers Library. 

Young alumni women have also begun to lead the way in giving to the Kenyon Fund, which welcomes gifts at all levels and supports financial aid and the daily operations of the College. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020, women in alumni classes from 2006 to 2020 made up 59 percent of all donors.

During the June online giving challenge Kenyon Together, 57 percent of all gifts to the Kenyon Fund came from women. Among young alumni, women led the way by a dramatic margin, making up 70 percent of all giving. 

The ambassadors of Kenyon Women Giving Back are determined to see that trend continue.

To learn more about Kenyon Women Giving Back or the Kenyon Women’s Endowed Scholarship, contact Annie Gordon. Make a gift to the Kenyon Women’s Annual Scholarship.