Supporting students through the “final mile” of their degree

Completing any degree can be challenging. The ASU College of Global Futures Final Mile Fund sets out to make it a little easier.

This is a story about giving–you have been warned! It’s also a story about empowering students. And importantly, it’s a story about small acts of kindness that can have a profound impact on student success.

The short version is that my wife and I have just launched the Final Mile Fund in Arizona State University’s College of Global Futures to help students in the final stretch of completing their degree–and we really need your help growing the fund.

This is the long version:

Sweating the Small Stuff

For many students, that final stretch to completing their degree is tough. They’re juggling debt, possibly working multiple jobs, balancing physical and mental health with mounting academic demands, grappling with what can sometimes be overwhelming expectations, and on top of everything else, trying to line up the next step in their career.

For some students, this is just part and parcel of getting a degree, and they thrive on it. But for many, it’s one of the hardest parts of the journey. And for a few, there’s such a thin line between coping and not coping that the slightest hurdle can derail their progress to success.

Too often when we provide financial support through philanthropic giving, we focus on the stars, the students who shine, and the ones who have already achieved some degree of success. But for many of our students they have yet to reach their potential, or they’re amazing in ways that are often invisible to most people. And as a result it’s sometimes harder for them to get the support they need.

“The Final Mile Fund is intended to provide those metaphorical nails that our students need to succeed and reach their potential as contributors of a more just, vibrant and sustainable future.”

It’s for these students that my wife Clare and I established the College of Global Futures Final Mile Fund–the students who we need to be investing in for what they have the potential to become, rather than what they’ve already achieved.

The fund is initially intended to help students approaching the final mile of their degree in small ways: helping with the cost of business clothes or a decent haircut for a crucial interview perhaps; providing financial support for conference attendance or networking opportunities; taking the edge off essential upgrades to education-related technologies and transportation fees; or supporting physical and mental health and well-being in a myriad ways–the purchase of a slow cooker to support healthy eating habits maybe, or contributing to the cost of health-related activities, or enabling easier access to counseling or other forms of mental health support.

In the long term though, we hope the fund grows large enough to provide more substantive support to students as they face the final mile between where they are now and completing their degree.

And this is where we need your help:

We seeded the Final Mile Fund with an endowment pledge of $25,000 over five years. The good news is that, being an endowment, this fund will continue to provide support for students from accrued interest for years to come. The bad news though is that with current interest rates, the useable funds from that $25,000 will be really small.

For the fund to have the impact that’s needed, it needs to be ten times this size–a hundred times ideally.

We’re hoping that there will be enough people who see the value in helping students out in this way that they’ll add to the fund–and every contribution helps, no matter how small.

A Fund to Catalyze Future Success

Most of us are familiar with the proverb that starts “for want of a nail …” and ends up with a kingdom being lost because a single, simple need wasn’t met. As we strive to build a better future, it’s sometimes easier than ever to overlook those small, simple needs on which the emerging builders of that future depend.

The Final Mile Fund is intended to ensure our students have access to those metaphorical nails they need to reach their potential as contributors of a more just, vibrant and sustainable future.

Please join us in making sure that we have enough “nails” to go around!

Visit the College of Global Futures Final Mile Fund web page for more information and to make a donation.