Back to top

A Move in the Right Direction

For too many high school seniors, college is out of the question. Not from their own lack of achievement, smarts, or motivation—but simply because their families can’t afford it.

Partnering with UMass, an inspiring set of alumni are envisioning programs, scholarships, and unique learning opportunities to make the numbers work for more college applicants. Here’s how a few transformative gifts are impacting young lives.


will be able to attend UMass with help from the Abraham Bohn Children of Veterans Scholarship. The $1 million endowment, created by Lawrence “Larry” Bohn ’74, honors his father—a World War II airman who was shot down and spent 18 months in a POW camp before returning home.

After their father’s death, both Larry and his sister Rhonda Bohn ’82 were able to attend UMass only because they received substantial support under the postwar GI Bill. “Studying at UMass was an essential step in my career, and it was an essential step toward Rhonda eventually earning her PhD from Harvard,” Larry says. “I’ve been forever grateful for the opportunities we were given. And I want to be sure that veterans’ children today can benefit as we did.”


from underserved communities will be hosted in an on-campus summer program each year, getting a leg up on science and math skills and a taste of college life. For many of them, they will be the first in their families to participate in anything at a collegiate level.

The Samuel E. Massenberg Sr. Foundation, which was created by Michael Weir ’76 and his wife, Mirian Graddick-Weir, is constructing a sturdier ladder for more students of color and low-income students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by launching the Massenberg Summer STEM Institute with a $1 million gift.

All too familiar with the barriers that Black people face on the road to success, the Weirs designed the program to show kids of color that they can succeed by surrounding them with college students who look like them and share their interests.

“Many of these students are inspirational—and frankly, brilliant,” says Weir. “But never in their wildest dreams was UMass on their horizon. And because of their participation in the Massenberg Summer STEM Institute, that has changed!”


are being drawn to UMass Amherst by a generous $3.8 million bequest made by William Noland ’86 and Madeleine R. Noland ’89. Their gift—which is divided into three separate funds—boosts tenure-track junior faculty in the College of Natural Sciences, brings visiting scholars to the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and gives student-athletes much-needed academic support.


from Norwood High School who otherwise would not be able to afford college can enroll at UMass, thanks to the John F. and Margaret P. O’Connell Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund. As a first-generation undergraduate from a working-class family, John F. O’Connell Jr. ’70, ’72MBA credits a scholarship he received as a senior at Norwood High as his ticket to a different life.

Since 2013, two students from the school have matriculated to UMass each year with the help of the scholarship. With an estate gift valued at $5 million, O’Connell is ensuring that future students continue to benefit from this opportunity.

“Achievement legacies are short-lived, and they get quickly forgotten,” O’Connell says. “The only legacy that lasts is a human legacy.” And he hopes to help provide as many young people as possible with the exciting, challenging, mind-expanding experience of college.

For more stories of how alumni generosity moves things in the right direction, visit the Impact of Giving.