student's jumping after graduation

Equity-based Giving on the Rise at AU

Whether through annual gifts or endowing a scholarship, American University donors are passionate about equity-based giving opportunities—areas that help level the playing field and create an environment for student thriving.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of AU's guiding values—and our community believes the university cannot be excellent without being truly inclusive. Equity-based funds support some of AU’s concrete, specific steps to improve the university through inclusive excellence. This type of philanthropy at AU allows donors to impact areas of critical need and is growing at a rate of 43 percent year over year since the start of the Change Can’t Wait campaign. Several of the campaign’s core goals reflect this trend, including:

  • Eliminating student debt through financial aid and scholarships
  • Providing equitable access to internships and experiential learning
  • Creating scholarships for graduates of historically black colleges and universities
  • Endowing distinctive merit programs, including the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars, which provides full tuition, mandatory fees, books, transportation, and room and board
  • Investing in first-generation students, including first-gen transfer students, who may face additional financial aid barriers

Many of these goals resonate with dedicated members of the AU community, like Dr. Beth Fuchs, SPA/BA ’73, and Dr. Jack Hoadley. The couple wanted to support first-gen students—whose parents or guardians never attended college and who often face financial obstacles in their academic careers. Established in 2020, the Fuchs-Hoadley Endowed Scholarship will benefit first-gen students at AU’s School of Public Affairs. Through the Change Can’t Wait campaign, gifts like the Fuchs-Hoadley scholarship help more first-gen students access an AU education.

In addition to scholarships, equity-based funds that more broadly impact the student experience are an important part of AU’s commitment to inclusive excellence. These funds provide opportunities to support campus resources like the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. They also support experiential needs. For example, annual book awards from AU’s Latino Alumni Alliance, Black Alumni Alliance, and a forthcoming Asian and Pacific Islander Alumni Alliance award recognize high-achieving students with connections to underrepresented communities. Recipients receive a $500 scholarship to help them pay for textbooks.

"[G]etting new books at the start of the semester [is] honestly an experience I never had due to the high costs of my textbooks throughout past years,” said Imani Vice, SPA/BA '21, who received a 2021 Black Alumni Alliance book award. “The relief of having my own books to take notes in and hold onto for future references is such a privilege that I am grateful to have due to this scholarship."

AU is committed to ensuring that all students can thrive—intellectually, socially, and emotionally—a commitment intrinsically linked to inclusive excellence. As a central component of Change Can’t Wait, this commitment, combined with equity-based giving, helps create a more affordable and empowering AU experience.