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New endowment supports regional Appalachian Studies programs

A new $25,000 endowment from an anonymous donor has been established through the Shepherd University Foundation to support Appalachian Studies programming and community outreach in the region.

“We hope that this is a beginning of a steady funding stream for supporting our programs and addressing issues in the region,” said Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, director, Shepherd’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. “We hope that others who believe that what we do is important will give to the endowment as well.”

The Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities is currently focusing on education in the region and attempting to enhance the work of classroom teachers who instruct underserved children. The center received a $10,000 Building Resources In Diverse Geographic Environments (BRIDGE) grant from the state’s Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs to conduct an institute in the spring for teachers and community leaders in Jefferson and Berkeley counties who work with underserved children.

The BRIDGE grant helped teachers with professional development and the purchase of classroom materials designed to give children understanding of the rich cultural history and traditions of Appalachia and West Virginia. The new endowment will allow the center to extend its work to other areas that impact the region, such as business, environmental studies, education, and history.

“Since the endowment will provide core funding for Appalachian Studies initiatives, it will be essential in the life and continuation of all Appalachian studies programs at Shepherd, now and in the future,” said Dr. Shurbutt, who hopes this will create “the ability to be a dynamic and evolving part of the community—that is, changing and adapting as the community changes.”

Along with Dr. Shurbutt, Dr. Scott Beard, provost, helped bring the new endowment to fruition.

“Community is at the core of Appalachia, and this newly endowed fund will help us address the rich diversity of Appalachian culture, its businesses, and its history of innovation,” said Dr. Beard. “These funds will help advance the issues of economic and social justice.”

The Shepherd University Foundation will manage the Appalachian Studies and Communities Endowment. Tax-deductible gifts to support the fund may be made through the Foundation. Please make checks payable to the Shepherd University Foundation, P.O. Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV, 25443, or make an online gift.