In one of the most unlikely places – the deep South, where tradition reigns supreme and communities are accustomed to men at the helm – the University of Mississippi has taken the lead in recognizing not only the expanding financial power of women at the “philanthropy table” but also their unique abilities to lead and mentor.
Since 64% of all charitable gifts are made by women, the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy was created in 2000 to tap into this emerging new paradigm. The uniqueness of the program is to provide endowed scholarships for its council scholars and then guide them into their future careers and help with the development of life skills through the leadership-mentorship program.
The council members were chosen for their strong leadership skills, commitment, passion and diverse professionalism, ranging from corporate executives and business owners, faculty members and administrators to community leaders, homemakers and philanthropists.
The council members’ lives may differ, but they all have a single goal: to enhance the educational experience and provide career opportunities for young people during their tenure at Ole Miss.
Students receive scholarships of $10,000 per year for four years. Each scholar meets weekly with staff mentors and is also assigned life and career mentors from the Ole Miss and Oxford community and professionals in a wide range of fields. Many mentors are members of the council who guide the student in developing a career path, as well as help the scholar network with alumni and other professionals.
Each student also participates in a series of master classes using the philosophy of servant leadership as the core curriculum. Field trips, master classes and the monthly “Red Plate Suppers” are all part of the scholars’ life.
The mission of the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy is:
- To increase participation in philanthropy as a way of enhancing continuing excellence at the University of Mississippi, and
- To sponsor innovative programs that attract and develop students through leadership, scholarship, and mentorship, and
- To encourage our scholars to become philanthropists for their communities and for the University of Mississippi while on their life’s journey as caring, ethical leaders.