Forty high school students will be able to receive a free education at Williamson thanks to the Give Something Back Foundation (Give Back).

Give Back founder Robert Carr presented a gift of $250,000, which was matched with a $250,000 gift from Williamson trustee Richard Clemens, a retired senior partner at Sidley Austin LLP, to Williamson president Michael Rounds during a Give Back Partnership Celebration at the Clara Schrenk Memorial Chapel Wednesday.

The students, who will be selected over the next five years, must be Pell Grant-eligible and will receive scholarships providing tuition and room and board. They must also meet Williamson’s eligibility requirements.

Williamson is the first Pennsylvania college to become a Give Back partner college and joins other partner colleges in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois.

Carr said, “From the day I walked onto Williamson’s campus, I knew this institution would serve as an extraordinary option for the scholars in our program who wish to pursue an academic, trade, or technical career. It’s hard not to be impressed with the values-based environment here that fosters faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service.”

Rounds said, “We are delighted the Give Something Back Foundation chose Williamson to be the first college in Pennsylvania to become one of their partners. Their generous donation will help us greatly as we pursue our efforts in meeting our mission of preparing qualified young men to be respected leaders and productive members of society. This organization has changed the lives of so many young people and we are happy to partner with them to accomplish that mission here at Williamson. These students will have a brighter future thanks to Bob Carr and the Give Something Back Foundation’s generosity.

“We are also thankful for the generosity of our trustee Richard Clemens. He has supported our mission in many ways for years and we also have him to thank for initiating this valuable partnership.”

The celebration began with an invocation by Rev. Mark Specht 7W7 and welcoming remarks by Arlene Snyder, vice president for institutional advancement.

A video of members of the Class of 1W5 talking about the value of their Williamson education was shown, emphasizing the importance of a Williamson education.

Next, Rounds thanked Carr and Give Back and introduced Clemens, who not only matched Give Back’s generous gift, but initiated the partnership. In his remarks, Clemens spoke of the importance of Williamson in his own life and how he lived on campus as a young man attending college while his father, James Clemens, served as Williamson’s president.

Carr then inspired the audience with his life’s story, of growing up in humble circumstances and achieving success in business because of his college education. He was able to attend college because a Woman’s Club gave him a $250 scholarship. He was so thankful he vowed to repay them one day by helping other young people receive a college education. Upon the Woman’s Club’s 100th anniversary, he presented them with a check for $100,000 for scholarships and that was the beginning of Give Back.

Carr said, “I can’t think of anything I could buy that would be more meaningful than getting young people through college. If I went out and bought a large yacht, what would I do with it?”

Next a large facsimile of the check for $500,000 was unveiled and the celebration closed with remarks from Snyder and refreshments in the President’s office.

Give Something Back Foundation

The Give Something Back Foundation was formed in 2003 to provide mentoring and scholarships to academically driven students of modest means who assume college is not an option. Pell Grant-eligible students are selected in ninth grade and mentored through high school. Upon graduation, Give Back scholars attend a partner university or college located in Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania with the opportunity to graduate with no debt for tuition, fees, or room and board.

Give Back holds informational sessions to identify eligible high school ninth graders as scholarship recipients. The selected students are provided with mentors who advise and help prepare them to succeed in college.

During their high school years, Give Back scholars are expected to meet various criteria and demonstrate good character. They must also meet the partner colleges’ criteria for admissions to qualify for scholarship support.

Robert Carr

Robert Carr is the founder and former chief executive officer of Heartland Payment Systems, a debit and credit card transaction company recently acquired by Global Payments. He now devotes his time to Give Back, and also serves on the board of directors for MENTOR and Snider Hockey, and is a trustee at Lewis University in Illinois. Carr was appointed by President Obama to a key White House post on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee.

He is the author of Through the Fires: An American Story of Turbulence, Business Triumph and Giving Back, which is distributed by the University of Illinois Press. His forthcoming book, Working Class to College: The Promise and Peril of Blue Collar America, will be released March 2017.

To learn more about Give Back, go to giveback.ngo. Those interested in volunteering their time as a mentor can apply at giveback.ngo/mentors/.