African American Alumni Endowed Scholarship supports diverse learning

February 12, 2019

The scholarship established by Maria Welborne (‘90 B.S.E.) is inspiring black philanthropy and assisting students from diverse backgrounds with their educational goals at UM-Dearborn.


Inspiring black philanthropy at University of Michigan-Dearborn has always been important to Maria Welborne (‘90 B.S.E.). She made her first gift right after graduation and took the first step of her philanthropic journey, one that would start a permanent legacy of black giving at her alma mater.

And, with the help of the African American Alumni Affiliate, her employer Roland Berger, LLC, and the Alumni Society Board at UM-Dearborn,  the African American Alumni Endowed Scholarship has been fully endowed. But Welborne says that the efforts will not stop there.

“I wanted to help raise $25,000 of new money to grow this scholarship. So, while I am happy the scholarship is endowed, we have a lot more work to do,” said Welborne.  

This scholarship asks students to tell their stories of leadership, scholarship, or hardship. It celebrates students that participate in black student or professional organizations, major or minor in African and African American Studies, or come from diverse communities. Now that it is endowed, it will be awarded into perpetuity at UM-Dearborn.

“My goals are to increase African-American alumni engagement and to inspire shared philanthropy – that is why neither scholarship bears my name but is instead named for the community,” said Welborne. “The idea of collective philanthropy is consistent with the Kwanzaa principles of collective economics and collective responsibility. Additionally, earlier-in-life, smaller-dollar group philanthropy can be leveraged to great effect as was highlighted in a 2017 UM-Dearborn Alumni Day breakout session entitled You Don't Have to Be Rich to Give Back.”

In 1997, Welborne established the African American Book Scholarship with a personal donation. She leveraged a company match, and in the 1997-1998 academic year three students benefited from the scholarship.

Within 9 years, twenty-six students received the scholarship. However, Welborne knew that to fully endow the fund and to spark a legacy of black alumni giving at UM-Dearborn, she would need to expand and update the criteria. She worked with the African American Alumni Affiliate at UM-Dearborn to craft a plan to raise funds for the scholarship.

With another generous gift, and once again leveraging her employer’s matching gift program, another $10,000 was added to the endowment. When she joined Roland Berger, LLC, she was the catalyst for a $3,500 company gift.

The African American Alumni Affiliate has committed to not only fully endowing the scholarship, but to grow it each year. Donors have answered the affiliate’s appeals, participated in Giving Blueday, and are making monthly recurring donations to support this scholarship. And when the scholarship was close, the Alumni Society Board pulled together, gave and brought the scholarship over the endowment threshold.

Help us support UM-Dearborn students from diverse communities, check with your employer for matches, and give at today.

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