Creating Futures raising millions for student scholarships
Author: Tanya Gross, PSU Foundation
Posted: January 20, 2015

The Portland State University Foundation has raised more than $46 million in just over two years through its Creating Futures scholarship campaign and is nearing its $50 million goal six months ahead of schedule.

The campaign’s success is a visible indication of the rapid growth of philanthropic giving at PSU. Fundraising has tripled and the university’s scholarship endowment has grown by $10 million since 2010.

Creating Futures has raised major gifts from donors, including $3.6 million from successful local entrepreneurs, Christine and David Vernier (pictured). Helping to make college affordable—especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college—is one of the Verniers’ philanthropic priorities.

“When we were in college, a good summer job and possibly a small scholarship were enough to cover the cost. What a different world we have now,” said David Vernier.

“The response to our fundraising efforts has been overwhelming—and inspiring,” said PSU Foundation President/CEO Françoise Aylmer. “Donors have given in numbers never before seen at Portland State.” The campaign is now at 93 percent of its initial benchmark and will continue to raise funds for scholarships even after $50 million is reached.

Karla Andrade (pictured), a communications major from Klamath Falls, received a donor-funded scholarship to help pay for her senior year. Without it, she might not have finished her degree but now is on track to become the first in her family to graduate from college in June 2015. Thanks to donor support, the number of students who received university-funded scholarships rose from 576 in 2010 to more than 1,000 in 2014.

Over 5,500 individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed to the campaign, including: Keren Brown Wilson PhD ’83 and Michael DeShane MA ’71, PhD ’77; Irving Levin and Stephanie Fowler; John Salmon ’67, MA ’72 and Marcia Schulmerich ’69; Allen Ray Sandstrom ’64; Barre ’89, MSW ’92 and Robert Stoll; Marta ’90 and Ken Thrasher HD ’12; the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund and the Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust. 

Intel and Pizzicato Pizza are some of the many businesses assisting students at Portland State. Intel funded Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science fellowships and Pizzicato Pizza is the first company to create a scholarship for current employees studying at Portland State. “Our goal is for our employees to be successful not just in their work but in their lives,” said Tracy Frankel, Pizzicato Pizza owner and president.

Since Portland State was founded in 1946 to serve returning World War II veterans, its leaders have been committed to removing barriers to higher education.

“Part of our mission to serve the city is to make our academic excellence as accessible as possible,” says PSU President Wim Wiewel. “It’s one thing to bring students into PSU and quite another to make sure they come out the other side with an excellent education, not overburdened by debt and, most importantly, with a degree in hand. Scholarships make that happen.”


About the PSU Foundation

Celebrating its 51st year, the PSU Foundation is an independent tax-exempt organization. Gifts advance PSU by providing scholarships for students, supporting faculty research and instruction, and enhancing facilities and program development and growth. To give to the University’s fundraising priorities, please contact the PSU Foundation at 503-725-4478 or

About Portland State University

Oregon's urban research university, recognized for excellence in sustainability and community engagement, is located in the heart of downtown Portland. PSU's motto is "Let Knowledge Serve the City," and it offers more than 200 degrees with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects.