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Brad and Jen Ward: Youngest Donors to Qualify for a 1:1 Match

Brad, Jennifer, and Emelen Ward
Brad Ward BA ’05 CBM likes to go his own way.

He chose UIS partly because no one from his hometown of Rushville, Illinois, had ever enrolled in UIS’ new four-year undergraduate program.

He started as a computer science major but soon veered off into a hybrid mix of marketing, computers, and communication, completing a business degree that led him into the field of online marketing. 

With his business partner Joe Gaylor, in 2008 Brad forged a new company, BlueFuego, that helps dozens of colleges and universities around the world capitalize on their online social marketing presence. 

Brad Ward speaking at a conference
Blazing a New Trail at UIS

Now Brad and his wife Jennifer BA ’06 LAS have blazed a new trail at UIS. 

They are the youngest donors to set up an Access Illinois scholarship—the Brad and Jennifer Ward Scholarship Fund—and among the youngest donors ever to create a named scholarship at UIS.

In his business, Brad works every day with students who rely on scholarships. “State budgets are being slashed,” he says. “For higher education to be affordable and accessible, universities need alumni who are able to give back. That’s why we give.”

Because their scholarship qualifies for the 1:1 match, their original gift will support business students (like Brad), with the match supporting education students (like Jennifer).

See how great this match program is?

Not Otherwise Able to Attend College

Jennifer wants to help students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. Currently staying at home to raise their daughter, Jennifer taught at an Indianapolis charter school where 85% of the students received free or reduced lunches. Some of her students were among the first in their families to graduate from eighth grade.

“So many students could have bright futures,” she says, “but getting an education is hard for them. They simply couldn’t afford college. That’s why I’m passionate about scholarships. An education promises a better future and a chance to provide for their families.”

Jennifer hopes their education recipients will devote themselves to recognizing and nurturing the value of each student they teach.  “And if they end up working with students at a low socioeconomic level,” she says, “I’ll be even happier.”

Nurturing the Value of Integrity

And Brad’s hopes? UIS professors helped him nurture the value of integrity in the workplace.  He hopes recipients will carry that same perspective forward, improving their workplace wherever it might be.

Brad and Jennifer have stepped forward among recent graduates to create a named scholarship. Wouldn’t this be a good time for you to join them in their passionate and generous commitment to helping students with need? Learn more about the Access Illinois match requirements.

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