Delaware State University Scholarship Ball raises $3 million, with Magic Johnson making surprise appearance and donation

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Delaware State University’s annual Scholarship Ball raised more than $3 million

The Ball was highlighted by the single-largest contribution made by an alumnus in the university’s 132-year history. Steve Ewing, a 1983 graduate of then-Delaware State College, presented the university with a $1 million gift. Ewing recently sold his automotive franchise, Wade Ford, one of America’s largest African-American-owned Ford dealerships. Ewing and his wife, Terri, live in metropolitan Atlanta but are northern New Jersey natives.

In presenting the gift to the University, Ewing recounted the importance of Delaware State University in his life: “My parents gave me all the tools to be successful, but I am a better man, a better person because of Delaware State University.”

He then immediately challenged the entire alumni community to match his gift. Noting the significance of the gift, university President Tony Allen said, “Steve, you are an exemplary alumnus, one clearly raised with a unique combination of tenacity, compassion, and grace – the very essence of the University’s creed, ‘Enter to learn; go forth to serve.’” Ewing chairs the university’s Athletic Transformation Committee, a newly formed group to anchor the University’s effort to bring an athletic corridor to campus.

Ewing was introduced by NBA Hall of Fame member Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who donated $600K to the university and promised an additional $1 million. Johnson is also the co-owner of SodexoMagic, a 17-year joint venture between Sodexo and Magic Johnson Enterprises. SodexoMagic is the food provider for the university.

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Sallie Mae, a private lender in the student loan space and an educational solutions provider to students and families throughout the country, matched Mr. Ewing’s gift with a $1 million research endowment to the university to help close the college completion gap. The Sallie Mae Fund grant will support a three-year “Persistence and Completion Pilot Program” that will study and identify barriers to degree completion, help students return to school, and help advance policy recommendations and best practices to enhance student re-engagement.

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