Social Justice Fund receives anonymous $1 million estate gift


Anonymous donors have made an estate gift commitment of $1 million to support the Office of Multicultural Development Social Justice Fund, housed in The University of Akron (UA) Office of Multicultural Development.

This commitment represents the largest gift to the Office of Multicultural Development in University of Akron history. In addition to their estate gift, the donors have committed to annual gifts to the Office of Multicultural Development Social Justice Fund that will be available for immediate use.

Established in 2021, the fund supports the office’s efforts in providing wrap-around services to UA students of color in their pursuit of college degrees and on into professional life.

“This generous donation will support our efforts in recruitment, retention and advancement of students of diverse backgrounds, particularly those who are underrepresented at UA,” says Dr. Sheldon Wrice, UA’s vice president of inclusion and equity and chief diversity officer. “This will be of great assistance as we carry out the primary mandate of this office to cultivate, sustain and enhance the requisite environment for diversity and multiculturalism on campus.”

The mission of the Office of Multicultural Development is to prepare students to live and excel in a global society. It is characterized by extensive student-focused collaboration such as the Peer Mentoring Service, which facilitates a one-on-one relationship between an experienced University of Akron student and a new first-year student. 

Students connected in this way usually feel less isolated, thereby enhancing their first-year experiences. Learning about campus resources results in better academic performances and chances of matriculation from first year to graduation.

Learning Communities, which also fall under the Office of Multicultural Development umbrella, are structured learning experiences for roughly 25 students who take two to four classes together promoting the academic and social integration of students of color into the University.

UA currently offers two Learning Communities as part of its Inclusive Excellence initiative. PASSAGE helps students develop a strong connection with the academic culture of the university, while the African American Male Learning Community targets incoming first year male students. The experience focuses on leadership, responsibility and academic achievement.

Finally, ADVANCE is a special orientation program for multicultural students at UA. Participants meet with current students, faculty and administrators who help them learn how to identify and handle the challenges typically encountered in the freshmen year.

Together, these efforts are making a difference in the lives of UA’s multicultural students. “The African American Male Learning Community was one of the major contributors to my academic success during my first year of college,” said one student. Another noted: “Being in PASSAGE helped make my transition from high school to college very simple. There was never a time when I felt uncomfortable.”

The generous estate gift will assist these successful multicultural programs to further flourish and grow.