Rainier Scholars, a Seattle and Tacoma-based non-profit, identifies students of color from low-income families and fosters their academic and personal success. The organization provides continuous support from fifth grade through college. It’s comprehensive 12-year model focuses on academic preparation, career and leadership development, and offers personalized support to increase college access and graduation rates. Since its founding in 2000, Rainier Scholars has significantly altered the life trajectories of hundreds of students.
Recognizing the success of the organization's proven educational program, Seattle University partnered with Rainier Scholars in 2020 and committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need for every newly admitted Rainier Scholar. In addition to tuition, the university also provides on-campus room and board. Over the first three years of this partnership, Seattle U admitted 26 Rainier Scholars, all of whom remain enrolled and are working toward graduation. Ninety percent of these students are first-generation college attendees.
Photo courtesy of Rainier Scholars.
To help build on the already successful program, Pagliacci endowed a scholarship to expand the program and allow it to benefit an increasing population of students. “Pagliacci Pizza is an incredible partner,” says James Miller, Seattle U’s Dean of Admissions. “Rainier Scholars recently opened a location in Tacoma. They've traditionally been a Seattle-based organization and will be doubling in size. This new scholarship will not only have a direct and measurable impact on our ability to serve these students but will also serve as a platform for future generosity from other members of the Seattle University community.”
Pagliacci's commitment to Seattle University is both longstanding and multifaceted. The company's founder, Dorene Centioli-McTigue, is an alumna of Seattle U, and Pat McDonald, a co-owner, also attended the university. Co-owner Michelle Galvin not only earned her MBA from Seattle U's Albers School of Business but also serves as the current Chair of the Board of Regents. The scholarship for Rainier Scholars is the second endowment from Pagliacci at Seattle U; the first, known as The Pagliacci Pizza Endowed Scholarship for International Study at the Albers School of Business, was established in 2017.
Michelle Galvin with Jonelle Johnson, SU Vice Chair of Board of Regents.
Seattle U has demonstrated a commitment to fostering a diverse student body. Each of the last three entering classes has been the most diverse in the institution's history. Two-thirds of this year's incoming class comprises students from non-white backgrounds, and nearly 10% of the student body has an international background.
“We're trying to do a lot in our little corner of the world to expand access,” says James. “A gift like this helps us grow that mission, which is an integral part of our Jesuit values — to serve our immediate community, especially those with the least access to higher education.”
Photo courtesy of Rainier Scholars.
Rainier Scholars does not underestimate the potential of any student. For over two decades, the program has identified promising students and supported their learning and achievements, year after year, until they graduate from college. Rainier Scholars alumni have attended top universities across the country, including Seattle U, with many being the first in their families to attend college.
“Rainier Scholars come to Seattle University very academically prepared and ready to jump into a challenging academic environment,” says Christa Callanan, Seattle U’s Associate Director of Donor Relations. “Pagliacci’s philanthropy will make a significant impact on the success of our partnership with Rainier Scholars.”