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 Tuesday, February 13, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


'Lay-buy' system to fund Lucile Buchanan Scholarship
By Melanie O. Massengale, communications manager, Mailing Services

When Professor Polly McLean of women and gender studies decided that the time was right to create a new $25,000 scholarship for undergraduate majors, she turned to a southern African model of fundraising. The "lay-buy" system is widely employed there in much the same way that "layaway" is used in the United States. With this approach in mind, Professor McLean emailed three faculty members with a challenge to contribute to the new endowment. "It is a method of having a single goal by putting things aside to meet that goal," she explained, "One thousand dollars this year, two next until the goal has been reached." 

Professor Joanne Belknap of sociology responded to McLean's appeal with a $5,000 contribution. "I had wanted to do something anyway," she said. "I am from a small mountain town, Fraser, and I felt like an outsider when I first came to CU. I wasn't prepared for college." Belknap was a student at CU in the 1970s, and she says she loves teaching. As a Colorado native, she had wanted to invest in CU. "Polly had researched this CU graduate and here was a chance to honor someone."

The Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Scholarship is named for the first African American woman CU graduate. McLean, in researching Buchanan's life, had confirmed that her graduation occurred in 1918. Prior to McLean's discovery, CU officials had believed that the first African American woman graduated here in 1924. 

Who will benefit from the new scholarship? "I would like to see it benefit undergraduate majors, especially students of color with financial need," McLean says. Belknap agrees: "It is difficult for students of color—there are few of them, and they stand out—everyone deserves an opportunity." 

McLean believes that the "lay-buy" strategy is an appropriate model for fundraising. First off, its roots lie in Africa. It is a thrifty and affordable method for donors, and Belknap has provided a substantial initial contribution. Another $20,000 must be raised before the scholarship is fully endowed, however. "The math is simple," McLean notes in a recent issue of the Women and Gender Studies Newsletter, "We need 100 people to give $200 each." She invites the entire CU community to help her meet the challenge she originally proposed to three faculty members.

For more information about contributions to the Lucile Buchanan Scholarship, visit .

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