As the spring semester begins, West Chester University has secured $46 million in its goal to raise $65 million by June 30, 2024 as part of 150Forward: The Campaign for West Chester University.
As the largest comprehensive campaign in the university’s history, the efforts are designed to help an even greater number of WCU students secure specific needs: more scholarships; increased opportunities for academic, civic, and professional opportunities; and ready access to technological advancements.
Coinciding with the university’s 150th-anniversary celebrations this year, the campaign has reached more than 70 percent of its goal, thanks to those who are dedicated to helping hard-working students excel academically.
Intentional about fueling these students’ academic dreams are Clinton, N.J., resident Dawn Swope Apgar and West Chester resident Charles E. Swope Jr., cousins who hail from three generations of families committed to nurturing student success. Their grandfather, Charles S. Swope, served as president of West Chester State Teachers College. Their grandmother, Edna, and their own fathers, Richard M. Swope and Charles S. Swope, formed The Swope Foundation in 1960, which has provided more than $1 million in scholarship funds to WCU students.
The goal of the Dr. and Mrs. Charles Swope Scholarship Foundation has been to ensure that students receive financial assistance so they can attain their higher-education goals. Charles and Edna Swope, both graduates of West Chester State Normal School in 1921, donated to the church, supported their families who had fallen on hard times, and gave all the produce from their garden to neighbors and friends in West Chester. The family ethos has always been to work hard and save so that gains could work for family members, friends, and be used to help others.
Dawn — an assistant professor and assistant chairperson for the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. — and Chuck, a broker of record and chairman of Swope Lees Commercial Real Estate in West Chester, see themselves as stewards of this Swope family mission.
“Our grandparents, then parents, recognized the world is shaped by the great minds of the future,” said Dawn. “They felt it’s important to pay it forward by investing in bright, motivated students.”
To ensure their educational legacy, Dawn and Chuck recently completed the strategic transition of the family Foundation into a memorial endowment.
“We wanted to leverage the institutional capabilities of the West Chester University Foundation,” said Chuck. “We like knowing that there is a plan for the future, and it allows us to focus less on the business aspects and more on the students.”
For the Swopes, those relationships anchor their family’s mission to continue to make a difference where it matters most.
“Our Foundation is now in its fourth generation, and I’ve still stayed in contact with past recipients,” said Dawn. “Our hope is that the scholarships are an example of how students can feel connected — with one another and with our family.”
“The seeds of student success at West Chester University were first sown by the Swope family and continue today,” said WCU President Chris Fiorentino. “All of us are truly grateful to this family for committing their lives and resources to making sure hard-working students have access to an exceptional education, as well as to the tools that enhance their abilities. We hope others will be inspired by the Swope family’s example, their generosity, and their belief in the difference that West Chester University students can make in the world.”