Fontbonne Community Connection: A Decade – A Difference

HomeAlumniFontbonne Community Connection: A Decade – A Difference

the Fontbonne Community ConnectionEdited by Elizabeth Brennan in cooperation with the Fontbonne Community Connection | Fontbonne Magazine, Winter 2017

There were no magic wands, sleight of hand or supernatural forces at work a decade ago when Nina Kassing Bryans ’57, Dede Dallas Caspari ’66, Karen Clark Castellano ’98, Kate Toohey Gunn ’65 and Carol Conway Spehr ’63 took a leap of faith.

Marilyn Sheperd, then Fontbonne’s vice president for advancement, invited them to learn about women’s philanthropy and giving circles. Research showed that women’s philanthropic needs differ dramatically from men’s. Women want a say in how their funding will be used, they expect accountability, and they enjoy the social aspect of working for a common cause. The five volunteers concurred with the data but remained skeptical. Sheperd confidently responded to their concerns: “Trust me,” she told them. “It’s magical!”

The women took the leap with exuberance. Within three months, they had created a vibrant women’s giving circle. They chose to call it the Fontbonne Community Connection because it captured the new organization’s purpose — to connect faculty, staff, students and alumni in making goals, dreams and ideas come alive — beyond the scope of the university’s budget. They invited fellow alumnae and friends to join them as they hosted coffees and a luncheon. The seeds of philanthropy they had planted began to grow — one woman at a time.

“FCC is the most exhilarating experience. I never dreamt I would be a philanthropist,” said current FCC Chair Maggie Gunn Fowler ‘64. “By pooling our individual contributions, my fellow sisters and I are making dreams come true for faculty, students and staff — as well as for children, parents and teachers. FCC’s impact on the university and beyond is palpable. It really is magical.”

Over the past ten years, the Fontbonne Community Connection has touched innumerable lives. Funds totaling $715,342 have granted 126 awards that enabled faculty, students and staff to reach higher and broader in achieving their educational dreams. Four chairs have led these efforts: Carol Conway Spehr ‘63, Karen DeGuire Gedera ‘65, Joan Buxton Falk ’65 and Fowler.

“As a graduate of Fontbonne’s department of communication disorders and deaf education, I was intrigued and interested in the opportunity to participate in a program that promotes the sustainability of the university,” said Villajean Jones ‘94, a speech-language pathologist and new FCC member.

Today, there are 80 total members, who each contribute a minimum annual gift of $1,000. Most live in the region, some outside the St. Louis area and one as far away as London. Members want to be part of something great — to see how cutting-edge research and technology is changing education and to witness the FCC’s extensive impact.

“The FCC offered a terrific way to become more connected,” said Judy Benevento ’86, a special education graduate who now directs the adult education program in her parish in Bettendorf, Iowa. “This targeted giving helps me learn what new programs faculty and staff are considering and then actually influence the funding of them.”

One hundred percent of each member’s annual FCC contribution is deposited into a restricted awards fund. The fiscal year-end total determines the amount of available funding for the next year’s awards. Each  member has the opportunity to review all award submissions. Then, she votes. Her vote is her voice, declaring which programs or projects she would most like her contribution to benefit.

“Giving and then collectively determining where our donations go is so rewarding,” said Kim Distefano, FCC member and past library manager for St. Joseph’s Institute for the Deaf. “Every penny collected is used for good work and supports such a valuable educational enterprise. Some funded projects give this small university such global reach. The personal growth and sense of making a difference, plus the real connection to my community, is more powerful than I could have imagined.”

The Fontbonne Community Connection will officially mark its tenth anniversary at a gala celebration April 28, 2017. Then, at the annual FCC meeting in July, the organization will announce its 10th round of awards. The FCC’s anniversary motto says it all: “A Decade – A Difference.”

“FCC is a unique women’s organization, and I take membership very seriously,” said Bev Wagner, FCC member and St. Joseph’s Academy graduate. “I study the proposals and vote very selectively. I’m very proud of the work we do.”

Members look forward to bringing more dreams to life and to increasing higher education’s positive impact on society. One woman at a time, they will continue planting philanthropic seeds and celebrating their expansive reach.

Join the FCC by calling Laura Farrar at (314) 889-4712. For more information, visit www.fontbonne.edu/fcc.


The Selection
Fontbonne faculty, staff, students and student organizations are invited to submit proposals each spring. Applications are then studied by FCC members at three lively roundtable discussions. Proposals are carefully reviewed, and women leave the discussions ready to rank their choices numerically and vote. Each woman has a voice and a vote in determining which FCC contributions can make the greatest difference. The number of awards have varied from 10 to 20 each year, depending on the funds donated.


A Significant Scope

A Fontbonne student works with young clients.
FCC funding has supported therapy programs for individuals with aphasia, stutterers, and deaf and hearing impaired children.

Since the FCC began awarding funding for projects in 2008, the department of communication disorders and deaf education has received more than $90,000 to fund 17 innovative projects. The services funded have touched individuals of all ages, on campus, in the community and internationally. They’ve improved student learning and increased awareness of Fontbonne University. Because of these projects, children who use cochlear implants now have an interest in reading; children who stutter meet to talk freely about themselves; children in Central America receive critical screening and early intervention for hearing and language; adults with language loss due to stroke regain the ability to hold a conversation, read bedtime stories to grandchildren, or say “I love you” to a spouse. Lives are changed because of the FCC’s generosity.


Fontbonne Community Connection Successes

The generosity of the FCC has made a lasting impression on the Fontbonne community — and beyond. Here are just a few of FCC’s many successes.

International students from India
The FIRST program, initially made possible by FCC funding, helps orient new international students throughout their first year at Fontbonne.
Dr. Yi Yang works with graduate students.
Fontbonne become the first university in the region to offer an undergraduate degree in cyber security, with assistance from an FCC award.
Bosnian flag and map
The Bosnia Memory Project gives the St. Louis Bosnian community a voice, and FCC funding helped bolster it and establish a permanent archive/display at Fontbonne’s Jack C. Taylor Library.
A scene from "Falling"
FCC support brought to life an autism education project as a follow-up to “Falling,” Professor Deanna Jent’s award-winning Mustard Seed Theatre and off-Broadway production.

 

Read More in the Fontbonne Magazine

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings

GDPR

  • GDPR Privacy Policy
  • Google Analytics

GDPR Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Overall Policy

Thank you for visiting our website. We’re pleased to share our policy regarding the use of information received here. Privacy is a matter of concern to us. We are committed to protecting your privacy and the security of the information that you may provide to us.

Personal Information

We do not track individual users. Your email address or other personal information is not collected unless you provide it on a form, survey or application. We will not sell or otherwise make available any personally identifiable information to any organization not directly affiliated with us. We will comply with legitimate government or legal requests as necessary to protect our organization or to comply with laws.

Traffic Analysis

We analyze traffic to this site. We collect statistical data on an aggregated basis through Google Analytics. For example, we collect information about the domain names of servers that bring visitors to our site. We count the number of visitors and keep track of where they go on our site. Such information allows us to find out what areas users visit most frequently and what services they access the most, which enables us to create a better overall user experience. To gather such data, we use cookie technology, which collects data in aggregate form, not by individual user.

Cookies

As referenced above, we use cookie technology for traffic analysis. Cookies are small pieces of information stored by your browser on your computer’s hard drive. The cookies placed by our server do not gather personal information about you, do not provide any way for us to contact you and do not gather information about your computer. The cookies simply allow us to enhance our site by letting us know what sections are visited most often. The use of cookies is common on the Internet, and our use of them is similar to that of other reputable online organizations.

Links To Other Sites

Our site contains links to other sites and Internet resources. We are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of these third-party websites and Internet resources.

Updates To Privacy Policy

We may update the privacy policy periodically, and we encourage visitors to review them on a regular basis.

Last revised: June 2015

Google Analytics