Westmont Magazine A Generous Community Gives at Record Levels
Extraordinary support from the Westmont community led to a new record of annual fundraising for scholarships, new programs, facilities and expenses related to COVID-19. Generous alumni, families, faculty, staff, friends, students and foundations contributed about $33.7 million in the fiscal year ending May 31. Robust financial support played a key role in sustaining Westmont’s outstanding academic and student life programs and helped provide student scholarships and launch key new initiatives. The board of trustees set the example with 100 percent participation in giving, and an anonymous trustee made a gift of $1 million.
How did Westmont set a fundraising record in the midst of profoundly challenging circumstances? While many nonprofit organizations lowered goals or paused fundraising during the pandemic, Westmont adopted targets consistent with previous years. This strategic decision kept the fundraising team focused and energized and allowed the college to move forward with new programs and enthusiastic financial partners. In a year when many colleges faced difficult questions about the future, Westmont’s resilient and generous community helped the college deepen and strategically extend its mission.
The uncertainty of the past year required the fundraising team to embrace flexibility, creativity and the unknown. Westmont’s recovery from the Tea Fire, Thomas Fire and the Montecito Debris Flow instilled confidence to press on and learn, adapting with deep faith in God’s provision. In turn, donors proved eager to support the college.
Generous givers helped the college purchase the building at 26 West Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara for $6.3 million, where the Westmont Downtown semester will continue to operate. The facility’s proximity to businesses and nonprofits helps students find innovative internships. Westmont and Cottage Health have established a strategic partnership to increase the number of qualified nursing graduates in response to a projected shortage of nurses locally and statewide. The college will launch a new Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (ABSN) in spring 2022 — pending approval by the California Board of Registered Nursing — in the new facility just a mile from Cottage Hospital. The Ahmanson Foundation gave a completing gift of $300,000 toward first-floor renovations for the nursing program that cost $1.15 million. Other gifts provided $775,000 for start-up costs, equipment and scholarships. The state-of-the-art facility features a customized learning environment supporting team-based learning, a skills lab and specialized equipment and technologies specific to nursing.
Donors supported the creation of space for the mechanical engineering program in the warehouse already approved in the master plan. In particular, the Fletcher Jones Foundation made a significant contribution toward construction and equipment. Engineering requires dedicated facilities for instruction and specialized technology and tools for hands-on learning, including advanced simulation equipment and 3D printers. The college has received full funding of $1.7 million for construction of the warehouse facility on lower campus. The college has also received approval from the Montecito Board of Architectural Review.
Bringing students back to campus for the past year cost the college more than $3 million in new expenses to keep the community safe. Westmont created the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to meet this crisis, posting a gift catalog online illustrating the items needed to protect the community. To date, donors have contributed $506,000 to the fund (westmont.edu/covid-fund). Gifts sometimes came with poignant explanations: One donor was led in prayer to make a gift of their stimulus funds; another donated the amount of the room-and-board refund from the college.
An appeal at the end of the year shared the inspiring story of an Augustinian Scholar who depends on the scholarship to attend Westmont. Matching funds from several generous friends energized support from others. In December, an alumni couple, who are also proud Westmont parents, offered to match gifts to the Westmont Fund through the end of the month up to a total of $125,000. Their support inspired $230,000 in giving. On the first-ever Westmont Wednesday April 14, the college community rallied for one full day to help provide students with the resources they need to grow in their faith, knowledge, beliefs and talents. A series of matching gifts encouraged participation.
Membership in the Wallace Emerson Society grew by 31 members. These alumni, parents and friends have included Westmont in their wills or estate plans to support its mission and ministry and sustain it for future generations. The college secured grants to support new and existing programs totaling more than $2.5 million from a number of foundations, including: John Templeton Foundation; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Fletcher Jones Foundation; Hugh & Hazel Darling Foundation; The Ahmanson Foundation; and The Ann Jackson Family Foundation.
Westmont’s community and financial partners find encouragement in God’s continued faithfulness through seasons of uncertainty. The college has embraced an extraordinary opportunity to build on its strength and stability coming out of the pandemic for the benefit of all current and future students.
As the academic year began, Westmont faced a significant challenge: COVID-19 complicated the college’s ability to bring students back safely. The fall semester started remotely at the end of August before students returned to campus in late September, making Westmont one of the few California colleges or universities to fully repopulate.
Achieving this goal required intensive planning and significant financial resources — more than $3 million in added expenses. In response, Westmont established the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to support a range of safety features such as Plexiglas shields, sanitizing stations throughout campus, face coverings for everyone on campus, increased cleaning and a system for distributing food. Costly regular testing of students, faculty and
staff helped prevent significant outbreaks. Unable to hold most classes indoors, the college set up numerous tents, which needed power, Wi-Fi, mobile TVs and whiteboards. Investment in enhanced data speeds and critical sophisticated data protection keeps the virtual environment secure from malicious actors. The fund also assists students experiencing increased financial hardship due to the pandemic.
Westmont deeply appreciates the many people who responded to the appeal to keep the campus and community safe by supporting the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. To date, the college has raised nearly $300,000. Gifts continue to pour in (westmont.edu/covid-fund).