Members of the Notre Dame family have made a generous gift to the University to establish the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Scholarship as part of the Fighting Irish Initiative for student aid.
Named in honor of the baseball icon who overcame racism and bigotry throughout his career, the scholarship will be awarded to under-represented, socioeconomically disadvantaged students at the University. Aaron attended a private event on campus Friday night (Sept. 8) in recognition of the gift.
The Fighting Irish Initiative funds the total cost of attendance for low-income students to attend Notre Dame — including tuition and fees, room and board, books, transportation and personal expenses. At the same time, the initiative provides a comprehensive enrichment program that helps these students get the most from their Notre Dame experience.
“The Fighting Irish Initiative reflects our steadfast commitment to ensure that the talented students admitted to Notre Dame can attend and find a supportive home here,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “Hank Aaron embodies the determination of all those who seek to fulfill their dreams, and we are grateful for the work he and his wife, Billye, have done — and are doing — to help so many young people pursue fulfilling lives.”
Created in concert with the University’s dedication to caring for the whole person, the Fighting Irish Initiative’s enrichment programs are customized to help students acclimate and adjust to a collegiate environment. The initiative also provides everything from warm winter clothing and a laptop computer, to help with move-in expenses and tickets to join their classmates at cultural, athletics and other events.
“The Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Scholarship will make it possible for us to enhance the support and services that we offer to our undergraduates through the Fighting Irish Initiative,” said Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for student affairs. “I am extremely grateful for Hank and Billye Aaron’s leadership in helping our students achieve their dreams of a Notre Dame education.”
The Fighting Irish Initiative is a major component of the University’s recently announced “Boldly Notre Dame” fund-raising campaign. One of the few universities to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of each undergraduate student, the University has committed to raising $1 billion in student financial aid as part of the campaign, so that a Notre Dame education is accessible to all qualifying students regardless of financial means.
Financial aid has been the University’s top fund-raising priority for more than a quarter century. More than half of all Notre Dame undergraduate students receive need-based aid from the University.
Additional gifts to the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Scholarship can be made on the “Boldly Notre Dame” website at giving.nd.edu.
Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye, founded the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation in 1995 to help young people with limited financial resources pursue their dreams. Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record in 1974 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
Notre Dame awarded an honorary degree to Aaron in 2005, with a citation that saluted him as “a Hall of Fame baseball player who, on and off the field, has been the kind of positive role model the sports world so desperately needs. In his 23 big-league seasons, he overcame racial prejudice to hit his historic 755 home runs, establish 12 other records, win three Gold Gloves and play in 24 All-Star Games. More importantly, he did it all fair and square.”