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New Gift Will Help Foster Students Succeed

Thomas and Marsha Hopkins support Pratt Center

Pratt Center

A new gift from Thomas and Marsha G. Hopkins will advance Cleveland State University’s nationally recognized efforts to promote higher education attainment and career readiness for individuals who have aged out of the foster care system. The $500,000 donation will create the Mathilde Jane Gutow Endowed Fund which will enhance academic support services and personal and professional development activities offered by the Pratt Center, CSU’s comprehensive resource hub dedicated to the academic and personal success of former foster kids.

“Foster children are one of the least likely groups to graduate from college and one of the most at-risk cohorts in our society,” notes CSU President Ronald M. Berkman. “This generous donation will strengthen the Pratt Center’s efforts to create a holistic system of support that can ensure these students receive the financial, academic and social assistance necessary to help them succeed at CSU and beyond.”

The Fund will provide support for housing assistance, meal plan assistance, book stipends and family emergency stipends. It will also support the overall tutoring, peer mentorship and socio-cultural support offered through the Pratt Center, which was created in 2016 to centralize CSU’s academic, mentoring, and social support resources for former foster youth.

Tom Hopkins earned his master’s in psychology at CSU in 1982 and spent his professional career at Sherwin-Williams, retiring as the company’s senior vice president for human resources. He currently serves as an executive-in-residence with CSU’s Division of Career Services. The fund is named in honor of Marsha Hopkins’ mother, Mathilde Jane Gutow, a former foster child who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, later earned bachelors and master’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University and worked for many years as a social worker and teacher.

“Jane overcame a tremendous number of societal, emotional, economic and life issues to complete her education at the highest levels, serve her country, raise a family and be an active member of her community,” says Tom Hopkins. “We are pleased to offer the foster students of Cleveland State University the opportunity to build meaningful and satisfying lives through the Mathilde Jane Gutow Endowment Fund.”

“We are happy to be able to do this on behalf of our family in memory of my mother who inspired all of us to reach our full potential and give back to our communities,” adds Marsha Hopkins.