Following 10 years of success, Bowling Green State University and Thompson Foundation announce the expansion of a historic public-private partnership providing scholarships for students of working families

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and the Thompson Foundation are pleased to announce the expansion and extension of their public-private partnership, which supports the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program. This combined funding helps high-achieving students overcome financial barriers to higher education. The program began in 2014 and combines Thompson Foundation financial support with matching University dollars and gifts from additional donors. From the program’s inception to expected completion in 2035, it will be responsible for creating nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in scholarships.

When combined with their past scholarship support, Bob and Ellen Thompson shared their intent to give $121 million to scholarships at BGSU, as well as the possibility of an additional $30 million to extend the program past 2035. If realized, the Thompsons will have contributed $150 million to student scholarships at BGSU.

This will be the largest contribution in the University’s history, the largest single gift dedicated to student scholarships in the state of Ohio history, and one of the largest non-endowed scholarship programs of its kind in the nation.

The partnership requires the University to meet a dollar-for-dollar match and a guarantee that at least 80% of Thompson Working Families Scholarship recipients graduate in four years or less. The Thompson Scholarship programs have already served 2,200 students. With newly announced enhancements, the program is expected to bring the total to 6,200. The increased giving will extend the program an additional two years, through 2031-2032.

Scholarship recipients, known as Thompson Scholars, receive $11,000 each academic year, covering much of the cost of tuition. They also must commit to completing other requirements, including required community service hours, maintaining academic progress and covering the remaining cost of attendance.

"The impact of this gift is immeasurable, and we are incredibly grateful for the Thompsons' continued confidence in BGSU and our students," BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. "Throughout the past 10 years, we have worked diligently with the Thompson Foundation to pressure-test and grow this first-of-its-kind public-private partnership aimed at accountability in achieving student success. This is absolutely an innovative concept of philanthropy based on outcomes, with all parties – BGSU, the individual student and the Thompson Foundation – having a shared responsibility in achieving success.”

The Thompsons are pleased to see the accountability approach is successful at BGSU.

“When we first created this scholarship program, we wanted to make sure the dollars were put to good use with accountability throughout the entire process," Bob Thompson said. "BGSU has proven this accountability approach works, and we are excited to publicly express our intentions to expand and extend this program into the next decade. Ellen and I are pleased to support BGSU students who have financial need and are willing to work hard at a university that has proven its ability to support them and match these scholarship dollars."

BGSU is committed to providing the matching funds needed to ensure all students enrolled will be supported.

"We recognize not all universities would be willing to accept the accountability metrics our agreement with the Thompsons requires, but we absolutely believe it is our responsibility to ensure our students are successful and each and every dollar is put to good use,” President Rogers said. “As a public university for the public good, we are committed to access to higher education, and we are so pleased to continue this philanthropic partnership with the Thompson Foundation. We look forward to working with others who will join us in the support of this program.”

There are currently 1,063 Thompson Scholars who are being funded by the Thompsons in the 2023-24 academic year. In the 2022-23 academic year, the average Thompson Scholar GPA was 3.59, and their cumulative community service hours totaled 26,532. A copy of the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program 2023 annual report can be viewed here.

In addition to the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program, the Thompsons support two additional scholarship programs at BGSU – the Robert and Ellen Thompson Military Scholarship program and the Sidney A. Ribeau President's Leadership Academy.

With this announcement, the Thompsons will be doubling their support of the Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy annual cohort from 10 students to 20 students and will ultimately provide approximately $23 million in scholarship funding through the life of this program. Thompson Scholars who are selected for the Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy are students who attended U-Prep charter schools based in Detroit, Michigan. The U-Prep school buildings were wholly funded by the Thompsons.

The Thompson Scholarship Programs office at BGSU provides wraparound support for each recipient and serves as a springboard for growth by creating opportunities for students to connect, engage and serve from the time they arrive at BGSU through graduation.

About Bowling Green State University
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University is a nationally ranked, comprehensive university located in Bowling Green, Ohio. Home to more than 20,000 students, BGSU is committed to redefining student success through relevant academic programs that meet the needs of students and society. As a public university for the public good, the University focuses its research, scholarship and creative activities to support the economic and cultural vitality of Ohio and beyond.

About the Thompson Foundation
Established in 1999 by Robert and Ellen Thompson, the Michigan-based Thompson Foundation forms partnerships with higher education to provide scholarships that have well-defined requirements. The Thompson Foundation works with its designated partner schools to provide an education that ultimately prepares students for meaningful careers and community-centered lives.

Updated: 05/02/2024 11:17AM