History of the Westfield State Foundation, Inc.
AT THE INTERSECTION OF COMMUNITY AND COMMITMENT
The Westfield State Foundation
Since the university’s founding more than 175 years ago, the faculty, staff and students of Westfield State have been the stewards of a grand tradition of scholarship and service. Westfield State’s founder Horace Mann set the benchmarks for our work as an educational institution. He believed that education and religious freedom are the means by which American liberties are preserved and he saw public higher education as the birthright of every child. He championed an education which moved beyond the attainment of knowledge by emphasizing its use in the service of the greater community.
As we applaud the good works of the Westfield State Foundation, it is important that we be recognize its beginnings. It was in 1980 that a group of committed business leaders and volunteers came together with representatives of what was then Westfield State College to establish a gathering place that would serve all faiths and enhance the quality of the spiritual life of students and the greater community. In order to successfully raise funding for the Center, they formed the Westfield State Foundation as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization through the IRS.
In May of 1981, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to transfer the deed for a 70' by 90' piece of land on the campus green to the Foundation. Constructed by Heritage Homes, Inc. of Westfield and funded through the generosity of 30 local businesses, community stakeholders and philanthropist Albert Ferst, the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center was dedicated the following year. Since its dedication in 1982, the Center has offered religious services, pastoral counseling and a variety of interfaith activities, administered by a dedicated staff of faith leaders, while the Foundation has gone on to become an essential component of university life.
Under the leadership of a board of area professionals and alumni and Executive Director, the Westfield State Foundation’s sole purpose is to support the University through active fundraising and advocacy. Continuing that great town-gown tradition of community leaders, working on behalf of students, faculty, staff and the greater good, the Foundation’s philanthropic programs are many. These include: scholarship, endowment and planned giving programs, capital and major gifts campaigns, an annual appeal and fundraising efforts like tonight’s event.
In 2015 there was a 40% increase in fundraising over the preceding year, with a 140% increase in donor participation. As a result of such success, there was a 64% increase in scholarship support in 2015. Since the inception of the state Internship Incentive Program three years ago, $475,000 in paid internship aid has also been distributed by the Foundation.