Holiday Giving: AUNF Scholarship

The Conover + Gould team will be donating to ten causes in the spirit of giving back during the holiday season. During December and January, each team member will be blogging about their chosen nonprofit. For his gift, Doug chose the American University of Foundation's undergraduate scholarship program.

Although a client of ours, my choice is not connected with a desire for continued business. Rather, because they are a client, I’ve learned first hand what AUN does and the vital role the faculty, staff and students play introducing a modicum of hope and civility to a part of the country that has little of both.

All lives certainly matter, and there is no shortage these days of lives in peril. There is also no shortage of people willing to help, as we’ve seen most notably in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of Syrian and other refugees have been welcomed with mostly open arms. Many here in the U.S. would gladly welcome more refugees here. But many will not welcome them, and have turned their suspicions on the foreign born already living here.

Most people in the world aren’t looking to immigrate and, as a practical matter, can’t. That’s why it’s important to provide help where they live. I recall reading that the poorer northern part of Nigeria has been that way for many decades. It is largely Muslim, where the south is largely Christian. I hope this isn’t a permanent division of central government attention and resources. A new government has recently come to power, and the leadership would be wise to treat the north more fairly.

The terrorist group Boko Haram, which wages violence against western education and other values, has wreaked havoc on the people of the region, burning schools, churches and, counter intuitively, mosques, driving people from their homes and farms. It will take years to recover—longer in the absence of international assistance. And the bad guys will be ready to creep back. They thrive on ignorance and anger.

That’s why I’m helping, and hope others will too. AUN is a highly credible institution, which I’m confident will spend the money in a responsible way.

I wish I had resources like the American philanthropist who recently announced he’d provide scholarships for more than 20 young female students. The students somehow managed to escape from Boko Haram. I don’t have such resources, but what I can give will mingle with gifts from other people like me. Together, we can make a very positive difference, as AUN produces a new generation of leaders who represent the best chance yet of reversing decades of deprivation.

Yes, a Nigeria in chaos would be very bad for Africa and for the rest of the world. I worry about this but what I alone do will not affect what happens. What I can do is try and help equip maybe one person who will commit his or her life to making things better. Depending on the beneficiary, this could turn out to mean a great deal.