Multi-million dollar donation will help Fresno State students in time of need

Fresno State. (Jose Romo/The Collegian)

The Perenchio Foundation donated a total of $5.5 million to help Fresno State students during the coronavirus crisis.

“Students who may be facing hardship on the road to academic success will soon be able to apply for more grants and scholarships thanks to two gifts, totaling in $5.5 Million, from the Perenchino Foundation,” said Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro on Monday.

The foundation, established to direct the wishes of the late Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, donated $5 million to create the Perenchio Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will support Fresno State students from a variety of backgrounds and majors, including “dreamers.” 

“The Perenchio Family Endowed Scholarship Fund wants to make sure that our dreamers were eligible for those dollars,” Castro said. “So I anticipate that this fund is going to help the most talented and financially needy students of Fresno State for the years to come.”

The remaining $500,000 was donated to the Good Samaritan Fund, a student resource created through contributors from the community and private donors, which will instantly help struggling students during the 2020-21 academic year.

The $500,000 has already been directed to the Good Samaritan Fund, according to Castro.

“We’ve been continuously awarding grants for [the Good Samaritan Fund] for the last several years, but as you can imagine, COVID has increased the demand for emergency dollars,” Castro said. “Because of this crisis, the foundation wants to get the funds out to the students as quickly as possible.”

The foundation’s goal for these donations is to positively impact the lives of students through the distribution of scholarships.

“By helping to remove barriers to achieving a college degree, the Perenchio Foundation is profoundly transforming the lives of current and future students, our next generation of leaders, thereby making a lasting gift to the hometown that gave Mr. Perenchio his start in life,” Castro said. “As student enrollment grows, we are extremely grateful for this investment in our university.”

Scholarships will be first awarded to freshmen and sophomores to encourage continuation, and juniors and seniors to motivate degree completion. The scholarship is open to all students who need extra financial help, with full-time students receiving priority.

Perenchio, whose grandparents emigrated from Italy, was born in Fresno, but he ended up in Los Angeles where he graduated from high school. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business and economics from UCLA, he joined the United States Air Force and became a jet-fighter pilot. 

After an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Perenchio was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Fresno State’s centennial commencement in 2011, which recognized his contributions in entertainment and communications and his commitment to education and philanthropy.

According to a Fresno State News article, during his acceptance speech, Perenchio encouraged graduates to dream big and said success could be theirs as it was his with “lots of hard work, perseverance, mentoring, faith, ambition and a good dose of luck.”

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