Pay It Forward Scholars Fund at BGSU turns financial support into community of giving

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – During his time at Bowling Green State University, C. Raymond Marvin ’60 '17 (Hon.) found himself faced with unexpected hard times. With support from those within the BGSU learning community, he was able to continue his education and graduate on time. Never forgetting the kindness and generosity of those who helped him, Marvin is now paying it forward through the Pay It Forward Scholars Fund.

The core idea behind the Pay It Forward Scholars Fund is that students experiencing a life event that caused financial hardship will receive help now, go on to future success and then contribute to the fund for future generations of students in similar circumstances – to pay it forward.

“I felt like it was important to set it up with the idea of connecting the recipients to each other, so it really becomes a community of people who understand the essence of a philanthropic attitude, both as a recipient and then eventually as a donor,” Marvin said.

Marvin's initial gift, along with contributions from his network of friends and a dozen other BGSU alumni members, now sustains an active program known as the Pay It Forward Scholars Fund. The fund is fully operational and has selected five current BGSU seniors.

WATCH: The story behind the BGSU Pay It Forward Scholars Fund - C. Ray Marvin '60, '17 (Hon.)

BGSU senior aviation student Mason Manns, one of the five recipients, reached nearly the same crossroads Marvin once did. An unexpected event left Manns with difficult decisions to make about whether he could return to the University, but the scholarship let Manns proceed toward graduation day on the same timeline.

“If I didn’t receive the Pay It Forward Scholarship, I would be in a really tough situation financially,” he said. “Overall, this would be really difficult to continue my training. It’s no secret that aviation is on the more expensive side of programs offered at BGSU, and for me, I was put in a position where I had to take a semester off or had to look into finishing training outside of BGSU and not getting my college degree. 

“The Pay It Forward Scholarship lets me finish my training, finish my degree and continue my studies.”

Marvin said he had his “a-ha” moment thinking about his own journey: In need of assistance as a student, but able to provide assistance and pay it forward later in life.

The concept of bonding recipients together is what makes the Pay It Forward Scholars Fund special, said Dr. Jacob Clemens, the senior director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement at BGSU.

“What separates this from nearly any scholarship fund in the nation is the moral and ethical obligation for recipients to, when they are able, pay it forward by giving back into this fund,” Clemens said. “For each of these students, when I started talking about the spirit of the fund, their eyes lit up and there was an immediate buy-in to the idea of paying it forward. The idea is this fund grows and grows to benefit future students.”

In addition to his Bachelor of Arts degree from BGSU, Marvin holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law (1963). After receiving his law degree, Marvin served as a judge advocate captain in the Air Force with a rank of captain.

He practiced law in Cleveland with Baker and Hostetler and later with the Ohio Attorney General. For 10 years, Marvin served as the Founding Executive Director and General Counsel of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his law practice, Marvin founded, built and sold two prominent telecommunications services in the Washington, D.C., area.

Marvin currently serves on the boards of multiple nonprofit groups in the Washington, D.C., area and was a member of the governing board of the Washington National Cathedral. He is president of the Science of Mind Foundation and is a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Marvin received an honorary doctorate of liberal arts from BGSU in 2017 in recognition of his leadership in business and as a community member and his encouragement of those attributes in young people.

Marvin attributes much of his success to the generosity of others – a sentiment he hopes will live on in perpetuity through the Pay It Forward Scholars Fund.

“I think that what’s going to happen is that people who finish school with the help of this fund are going to understand that when we lend a helping hand to others, that’s an energy that gets passed on, almost by its very nature,” Marvin said.

Updated: 08/14/2023 01:20PM