Thompson Foundation expands scholarship opportunities at BGSU


Bowling Green State University has made an announcement it says will change the lives of thousands of future students.

Following 10 years of success, BGSU and the Thompson Foundation have announced the expansion and extension of their public-private partnership, which supports the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program.

This combined funding helps high-achieving students overcome financial barriers to higher education. Beginning in 2014, the program combines Thompson Foundation financial support with matching university dollars and gifts from additional donors. From the program’s inception to its expected 2035 completion, it will be responsible for creating nearly $250,000 in scholarships.

When combined with their past scholarship effort, Bob and Ellen Thompson shared their intent to give $121 million to BGSU scholarships, as well as an additional $30 million for the possibility of extending the program past 2035. If realized, the Thompsons will have contributed $150 million to student scholarships at BGSU. This will be the largest contribution in the university’s history, the largest single gift dedicated to student scholarships in Ohio’s history, and one of the largest non-endowed scholarship programs of its kind in the nation.

The partnership requires the university to meet a dollar-for-dollar match and a guarantee that at least 80% of Thompson Working Families Scholarship recipients graduate in four years or less. The programs have already served over 2,200 students and is expected to bring the total to 6,200 with the new enhancements. The increased giving will extend the program an additional two years, through 2031-2032.

Scholarship recipients, known as Thompson Scholars, receive $11,000 each academic year, covering much of the cost of tuition. They must also commit to completing other requirements, including maintaining academic progress, completing community service hours, and covering the remaining cost of attendance.

“The impact of this gift is immeasurable, and we are incredibly grateful for the Thompsons’ continued confidence in BGSU and our students,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. “This is absolutely an innovative concept of philanthropy based on outcomes, with all parties – BGSU, the individual student and the Thompson Foundation – having a shared responsibility in achieving success.”

The Thompsons are pleased to see the accountability approach is successful at BGSU.

“When we first created this scholarship program, we wanted to make sure the dollars were put to good use with accountability throughout the entire process,” Bob Thompson said. “BGSU has proven this accountability approach works, and we are excited to publicly express our intentions to expand and extend this program into the next decade. Ellen and I are pleased to support BGSU students who have financial need and are willing to work hard at a university that has proven its ability to support them and match these scholarship dollars.”

Currently, there are 1,063 Thompson scholars who are being funded by the Thompsons in the 2023-2024 academic year. In the 2022-2023 academic year, the average Thompson Scholar GPA was 3.59, and their cumulative community service hours totaled 26,532.

In addition, the Thompsons support two additional scholarship programs at BGSU – the Robert and Ellen Thompson Military Scholarship program and the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy.

With this announcement, the Thompsons will be doubling their support of the Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy annual cohort from 10 to 20 students and will ultimately provide $23 million in scholarship funding through the life of this program.

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