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Local students say “thank you” to Chicago Orange Fund

Chicago Orange Fund

The thousands of students who attend Syracuse University each year often come from other states—even around the world—and many of these individuals face a mix of emotions. On one hand, they’re excited to pursue a great education at SU and become more independent. But it comes at a cost—a greater distance between the students and their families. They use every type of communication to stay connected, from phone calls and video chats, to letters and texting, but nothing compares to the everlasting memories of returning home for the first time. 

When the Chicago Orange Fund was expanded with a new student support initiative in September, it was designed to help local students facing unforeseen hardships—things that fall outside of traditional financial aid and provide an important safety net for students.

The fund’s impact has already been impressive. In just three months, about $2,000 was used to help four Chicago students travel home for the holidays when they couldn’t have afforded it otherwise, and one student got assistance with a laptop replacement after a software malfunction.

Each of the students who received assistance sent thank you messages to the fund administrators, and their gratitude speaks for itself.

“When I learned the Chicago Orange Fund wanted to send me home for Thanksgiving break, I was elated, shocked, and grateful all at once,” one student says. “I wanted to share those feelings, so I decided to surprise my family. Once I walked into my home, my mother, grandparents, and sisters were in the front room, and there was an outcry of joy when they saw my face.”

“Money is tight at home, so I was very fortunate to go back to Chicago for the holidays to see my family, and we all truly appreciate those who made my trip possible,” says another student. “It’s a gift that someone took the time to help me financially.”

“One look at the student thank you notes is enough to appreciate the importance of this fund,” says David Wishart ’07, director of regional advancement. “We’re grateful to SU administrators and Chicago alumni and friends for embracing this effort, and now we’re hoping to model it in other parts of the country.”

In some cases, the smallest gesture of goodwill can make a lasting impression on a student.

“I’m from the south side of Chicago and grew up in a rough neighborhood. My junior-senior year of high school, I lost 49 friends and my little sister to the city’s gun violence,” says one student. “When I first came to Syracuse, I felt as if I didn’t have anyone who cared about me, and I went through a rough period. Then this fund came along, and it made me feel extremely special—as if I was being rewarded for being a Chicagoan. I just want to genuinely thank everyone involved with it. Your support meant a lot.”

SU’s financial aid office is also appreciative of this new partnership and has been diligent about making sure resources are given to students who need them the most.

“The Chicago Orange Fund has had an immediate and positive impact on local students who genuinely appreciate this extra support, says Carlos Adrian, associate director of financial aid compliance. “I’d like to personally thank everyone involved with this very special initiative.”

For the students receiving support, it even fosters a spirit of giving.

“Words can’t fully express how grateful I am for turning my first time away from home into sacred time amongst family and friends. The simple notion of sending me home for Thanksgiving had the biggest impact on me and my family,” one student says. “In the future, I wish to join you all and do the same for a fellow Chicago Orangeman/woman.”