CSU-Pueblo receives $1 million from Pioneer Fund for scholarships

Colorado State University – Pueblo President Joseph Garcia announced today that the University will receive a $1 million endowment to fund scholarships for students from low-income or working class families, first generation college students, non-traditional students, and students from traditionally underrepresented groups thanks to the estate of Helen McLoraine, a Denver philanthropist who has touched the lives of thousands of young people. The scholarships will be distributed as the Helen M. McLoraine Scholarships.

CSU-Pueblo will receive $1 million for scholarships as part of a proposal presented by Garcia to the Pioneer Fund, a private family foundation established by McLoraine, who broke new ground for women by assuming leadership roles in the oil and gas business in the 1950s. Influenced by her mother, McLoraine established The Pioneer Fund to continue her lifelong support of projects and organizations that focus on medical research, education and social welfare. The Fund shall be used by the University to establish scholarships that will provide financial assistance to low-income, non-traditional students of underrepresented groups at the University, with the goals of (1) encouraging such students to pursue higher education opportunities; (2) enhancing diversity at the University and (3) increasing the potential for economic development of the region

As a philanthropist, McLoraine is known primarily for her generosity to groups with a focus on figure skating, education, youth and medical research. Born in Chicago in 1918, McLoraine was the daughter of an educational toy manufacturer and an opera singer. She attended the University of Chicago and later married Frank McLoraine, a prominent Chicago lawyer. In the 1950’s, Helen became a pioneer in the oil industry and broke new ground for women to assure leadership roles in business. She was dedicated to investing in young people to make the next generation a better one.

A 2003 eulogy described McLoraine, “The skating world was her pastime, the oil business was her work. . .and her time and efforts and resources to make the next generation a better one was her passion.”

According to Garcia, McLoraine had a heart for small non-profit organizations with great missions and small resources, and that formed the basis of the fund’s attraction to CSU-Pueblo.

“Our distinct student clientele is non-traditional, ethnically diverse, and hard-working, lacking the resources of many of today’s college-bound students,” Garcia said. “With this gift, McLoraine becomes the angel who forever will change lives.”

Garcia’s proposal noted that many first-time students who apply to CSU-Pueblo are admitted with inadequate academic preparation and little family support. Among students entering in Fall 2005, 25 percent were part time; 58 percent were female; 55 percent were non-traditional; 88 percent were commuters; 39 percent cared for dependents; and a significant percentage were required to take remedial courses in writing, math, or reading.

As a result of the region’s demographics, CSU-Pueblo serves large numbers of first generation students (65 percent self declared) who are overwhelmingly from working class families. Thus, the majority of CSU-Pueblo students typically attend classes while working in a full or part-time capacity.

“All of this adds up to both a low retention rate and, just as importantly, far too many residents of southern Colorado who would benefit from higher education opportunities but who fail to seek it at all,” he said.

The scholarships will benefit minority, non-traditional, and low-income students who will commit to part-time employment while they are enrolled so that they also are making an investment in their education.

“There is no question that a lack of financial support drives many of them to forego pursuit of a degree, and that hurts not only the individuals and their families, but the potential for economic development for the entire region,” Garcia said.

Garcia committed to using the University’s student support services (writing and math labs, tutoring support, academic and personal counseling, etc.) to ensure the students’ success and to help the students find additional sources of financial aid to supplement the gift for financially needy students in order to have the greatest impact.

“I can tell you from my own personal experience how educational opportunities can transform a life, and I want the University to be a part of transforming many, many more lives through these scholarships,” Garcia said.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.