Evans Fund reaches goal to secure match

Ron Orris of the Blaisdell Foundation and Julie Marasco of Northwest

A major gift by Pitt-Bradford alumni Frank and Mary Cattoni Rizzo put the university over its fundraising goal for its new Dean Evans Legacy Fund and unlocked a match from area groups.


The Blaisdell Foundation, Northwest Bank and the Bradford Educational Foundation had challenged the university to raise $200,000 for the Dean Evans Legacy Fund at Pitt-Bradford and that if the amount could be raised, the three groups would match the funds.


The endowed fund will provide money to promising students who run into unanticipated financial difficulties that can prevent them from returning the following semester.


It is named in honor of the recently retired Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Dr. K. James Evans. Evans stepped down in August after 42 years of service to the university.


The university announced that it had met its goal and unlocked the matching funds, during Alumni and Family Weekend, which also marked 50 years since the Rizzos graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.


Frank and Mary Rizzo attended the Bradford campus from 1964 until 1966. Because it was not a degree-granting campus at the time, both transferred to the Pittsburgh campus after their first two years in Bradford.


Mary Rizzo was a Bradford native and a 4.0 student at the time of her transfer, but she was short $300 to continue her education. That's close to $2,000 in today's dollars. “I couldn't come up with it,” she said, and she was afraid she would not be able to continue with her education.


Mary's aunt wrote to a state senator, who came through with the money. By the second semester, Mary had secured an assistantship job and could cover her expenses on her own.


“This fund was something that was dear to my heart,” she said about the Evans Fund, which will help students with one-time shortages continue their educations.


Across the country, the rising cost of college and stagnant wages have put the squeeze on families. In recent years, changes in federal and state programs have made less money available for low-income students as well.


Melissa Ibaňez, associate vice president of enrollment management and director of financial aid, gave an example of how one student still came up short.


After filling out financial aid forms, the government determined that her family, a single working mother with siblings at home, did not qualify to take out parent loans. The student received federal and campus-based grants, a donor scholarship and a merit scholarship. She took out subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. The student's mother is making payments, but the student still has more than $1,000 to make up before she can register for the next semester.


The fund will help students who have good grades and are in need of a relatively small amount of money to pay the balance on their tuition.


“When students have tightly budgeted their tuition payments, it is easy for unexpected one-time expenses such as an illness or car repair to derail their plans,” said Dr. James Baldwin, vice president of enrollment management.


Jill Dunn, executive director of institutional advancement, said, “This fund offers a great opportunity to help students when they need it the most. If students have to drop out of college, they will still have to pay back their loans, but without the benefit of the added income they could have with a college degree. Getting them over these rough passages is just a good investment.”


To contribute toward the Dean Evans Legacy Fund, contact Jill Dunn, executive director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, at jdunn@pitt.edu or (814)362-5091 or visit www.givetoUPB.org.