Women in philanthropy
A decade ago, a small group of women interested in making a difference for Louisiana Tech University gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the University.
The core group, which included Vice President Emerita Corre Stegall, decided to form a women’s philanthropic network aimed at helping Louisiana Tech’s students and programs succeed.
“Women have just begun in the last 20 years to realize that they can be and should be philanthropists on their own,” Stegall said. “The Lagniappe Ladies came about through the work of two women – Patsy Wolfe and Leu Wilder – serving on the Foundation Board who knew we needed to have a women’s giving society that benefited Tech.”
After discussing similar efforts at Centenary College, Stegall, Wolfe, and Wilder asked about 30 women who were already engaged with Tech if they wanted to be involved on a greater level to benefit the University. Since that first year, the Lagniappe Ladies have awarded 142 grants totaling over $560,000.
“We know that women lead philanthropic discussions in the household,” said Emily Becker Kabbes, Director of Development for the College of Education. “These women wanted to find a nurturing way to move the University forward.”
Women tend to give to different areas of the University, Stegall added. “They also tend to be more hands-on in their philanthropy. We see what’s going on when we make donations at the Early Childhood Education Center or when we help the choir purchase risers for concerts.”
This is one of the best programs, we think, for making a difference. At that time, women needed a voice – and to have their voices heard – in how we were going to impact Tech. We decided that we’d directly impact the faculty and students as much as possible.
– Shirley Crump, founding member
Each year, the Lagniappe Ladies review grant proposals from members of the campus community. Grant requests are limited to $5,000 each, and the number of awards is based on both proposal quality and available funding for the year.
In 2019 alone, the group awarded more than $50,000 through a series of grants to 14 units across Louisiana Tech.
“The 14 projects the Lagniappe Ladies chose to fund this year are incredibly diverse,” said Dr. Johnette Magner, Executive Director for External Relations for the Tech Foundation. “We saw proposals designed to increase collaboration and promote outreach, help with student success initiatives, and create more pleasant learning spaces on campus.”
Members tend to look at areas where students can be helped, and they work to increase the numbers of students who are impacted – directly or indirectly – through the grants.
“It takes time for us to evaluate all the proposals,” said member JoAnn Allen. “We want our pooled funds to be spent wisely, and we want to make an impact. Many of the projects that are not funded through the grant process will be funded through an individual donor’s generosity.”
Kabbes said watching the process members go through in order to fund projects is interesting, and this year’s coffee, where Lagniappe Ladies members met the individuals whose projects were funded, was an opportunity for donors to meet the students, faculty, and staff who would benefit from their contributions.
“When you are involved with the University, you know the needs in each college,” said member Jeanette Hinckley. “You’re not just giving; you’re making connections. We want to have relationships with those we’re helping, and we’re working to grow the organization so we can do more good.”
“About 50 active members both locally and across the country invest annually to have a voice in funding exciting projects that impact every corner of campus,” Kabbes said. “These grants will positively affect Louisiana Tech in areas where we have smaller needs that are still tied to the University’s strategic goals. In this year’s case, Lagniappe Ladies members are able to see a return 50 times greater than each original investment because of the power of pooled resources.”
Grant recipients for 2019 are:
- Student Admissions Recruiters – Purchase a large portable speaker that can be used to communicate with large groups of parents and students on Preview days
- Lady Techster Soccer Team – Provide for field enhancements including banners on fences
- Lady Techster Softball Team – Purchase a new softball pitching machine
- Early Childhood Education Center – Update and remodel outdoor learning space
- Nutrition & Dietetics Program – Update nutrition education tools
- Division of Nursing – Purchase a customized mobile booth to use for wellness outreach program across campus
- School of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry – Replace roofs on the original Tech Farm Salesroom and the Garden Shed
- A.E. Phillips Laboratory School – Purchase science lab supplies
- Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB) – Purchase a VP SPOTDOT embosser that produces print and braille simultaneously
- College of Education – Provide funding for Call Me Mister program
- Clinical Residency & Recruitment Center – Secure study materials for Praxis tests and provide scholarships
- Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Department – Train 160 teachers in mental health first aid
- Chemistry Program – Provide for beautification of Carson-Taylor Hall
- University Communications – Purchase a subscription to GatherContent, a software tool created to allow collaborative work across the University for content in both web and print marketing pieces