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Gift will boost emergency financial aid for DelVal students

Jim Harteis, Class of 1965, a Delaware Valley University alumnus who benefited from financial aid as a student, is paying it forward.

Harteis has provided a new, five-figure gift to increase the James L. Harteis Emergency Endowed Scholarship Fund at the university. The new gift will help students who are facing unexpected personal challenges, such as the death of a parent or caregiver, to stay in school and graduate. Harteis is also providing an additional, $1.5 million estate gift, which will support the university’s agriculture programs.

Emergency financial aid helps students who are facing a variety of challenges. Sometimes the students have a parent who has lost their job or a family member who is facing unexpected medical bills due to serious illness. Emergency aid also often helps independent students who are paying for school themselves. This type of aid, which is not required to be paid back, helps fill a gap for students who are in danger of not being able to return to campus.

For Donte Simmons, Class of 2021, emergency financial aid can be summed up as “hope.” In 2015, he had to put his dream of attending college on hold because of money.

“The funds just gave me more hope for my future,” said Simmons.
Simmons, a student from Bristol who is a business administration major, said he couldn’t be happier on campus.

“Living on campus helps me focus on my classes,” said Simmons. “I would have had to depend on people to bring me to school. My first semester here I did really badly, but when I was given the chance to come back I was able to get a 3.1. Financial aid just opened up a lot for me.”

For Dan Church, Class of 2022, financial aid meant an opportunity to pursue something he cares about deeply. He started at DelVal in the spring 2019 semester thanks to emergency financial aid.

“I lost my best friend and my little cousin to gun violence in Philly,” said Church, who is now a criminal justice major. “A lot of students’ situations outside of school are really real. School provides an outlet. When I’m here I feel free and I feel good. When I graduate, I want to go back to the city and become a cop to help the city change what’s going on and, maybe run for office one day after serving as a police officer.”

“I see the direct impact of emergency aid,” said Director of Financial Aid Joan Hock. “Sometimes you just need a chance, a boost up. Emergency aid that can fill the gap after all other resources are exhausted is life-changing.”

Hock said the impact extends beyond being able to get a degree. Recipients have a better chance of becoming self-sustaining after school. They are also able to maintain their social support systems by remaining on campus.

“There are not too many people who could relate to the importance of financial aid more than me,” said Harteis of his recent gift.

Harteis, the oldest of 10 siblings, grew up on a small farm and worked multiple jobs to help put himself through school. As a DelVal student, he depended on financial aid to stay in school. After he graduated, he went on to build a successful career in the dairy industry. He said he hopes to give students who are in the same position he was 60 years ago “the same help.”

After graduating, Harteis wrote a letter to DelVal’s president and board of trustees, pledging that it if he was ever in the position to pay it forward, he would.

“I’m pleased I can live up to that pledge to myself and the board,” said Harteis.

In addition to providing additional emergency aid for students, Harteis and his wife recently established the James L. Harteis ’65 and Ruth Harteis Agricultural Endowment Fund. Their $1.5 million estate gift will support the university’s agricultural programs in perpetuity.

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