$350K Challenge Grant Issued for the “We Believe in Erie Fund”

May 17, 2021

We Believe In Erie Fund 1

The Erie Community Foundation announced today that local businessman and philanthropist, Thomas B. Hagen, created a $350,000 challenge fund to encourage additional gifts to the “We Believe in Erie” Fund.

The fund was launched on Friday, April 30th, when the Greater Erie Economic Development Corporation (GEEDC) and The Erie Community Foundation proudly announced each organization committed $1 million to increase pathways to success for local minority students through scholarships, apprenticeships and internships.

“Without question, the “We Believe in Erie” fund can significantly impact the lives of ethnic minorities and women throughout Erie County for generations to come.” said Gerald Blanks, CEO of GEEDC. “The very idea of having the opportunity to become gainfully employed with family-sustaining employment is no longer a dream, but a true reality.”

Students like Avery Stevens, who is currently a Sophomore and a nursing student at Gannon University, will benefit from this joint effort to inspire hope and bridge economic and racial divides. “I was raised by a single mother, who could not afford to send me to college,” said Stevens. “This fund will help generations of students like me who want an education, a career and to live in Erie.”

“Between now and October 1, gifts of any size, up to $350,000, will be matched thanks to the generosity of Tom Hagen,” said Foundation President Mike Batchelor. “Once fully funded, this will become an increasingly important source of hope and support for students, and for local businesses that will benefit from an increased pipeline of local talent, he said.

“If we have learned anything during this past year, it’s that together we can make a difference in other’s lives,” Batchelor added.

To learn more about the “We Believe in Erie Fund” or to make a gift to the fund, visit www.ErieCommunityFoundation.org or call Vice President of Philanthropic Services Susannah Weis Frigon at 814-454-0843.