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January 1 – New Year’s Day
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January 18 – Mug Club

Student-success programs get a boost at MSU Denver

Ferd and Christy Belz, President Davidson, and a student pose for a photo in JSSB in front of the MSU Denver sign

by Lynne Winter

Gift from longtime supporters Ferd and Christy Belz will support wraparound services that pave pathways to graduation.

The Student Success Endowed Fund at Metropolitan State University of Denver received a significant financial contribution this month, thanks to longtime supporters Ferd and Christy Belz.

The transformational blended gift, over half of which will be contributed throughout the next few years and the remainder part of an estate gift, provides flexible resources in perpetuity to expand student-support services. It will increase access to and the quality of programs such as the Student Emergency Fund, First-Generation Initiatives, Rowdy’s Corner, tutoring and mentoring services and more.

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., described these wraparound services as the “secret sauce” helping students navigate higher education and achieve their dreams at MSU Denver.

“The Student Success Endowed Fund is all about providing the kinds of resources that get our students over the finish line and into the Colorado community and economy — this is what Ferd and Christy have invested in,” she said.

Wraparound services can be a determining factor in the success of college students. Studies show that those who receive comprehensive services have higher rates of improved mental health, social-emotional development and academic learning, including retention and graduation rates.

Social Work major Mariana Pascual-Miranda said programs such as First-Generation Initiatives have helped her overcome barriers in a higher-ed system not built for nontraditional students. Such programs have inspired her to give back as a student coordinator and mentor for fellow first-generation students.

Mariana Pascual-Miranda

“(First-Generation Initiatives) provides programming that supports students’ professional, personal and academic development. It’s been so beautiful to see them grow into who they are,” said the graduating senior. “We really appreciate (the Belz’s) investment in our students.”

Ferd Belz, president of L.C. Fulenwider Inc., and member of the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors for over 10 years, including a term as chair; and his wife, Christy Belz, president of Empowerment Coaching and Consulting, said they made their gift to the Student Success campaign pillar to provide students with resources to help get them through college.

“Education is a core value we invest in as a family,” said Christy, a first-generation student and social worker.

During her time with Project WISE, a nonprofit that empowers women transitioning from welfare to work, Belz witnessed the combined power of wraparound services and education to change the trajectory of people’s lives. Curating a MSU Denver TEDx event and Ferd’s work with the Foundation gave her a behind-the-scenes look at how those same tools transform lives at MSU Denver.

“I see the passion students have for the University. The professors are unbelievable, and the staff is remarkable,” she said. “We’re very, very honored to give this gift and make a difference for these kids.”

Also a first-generation student, Ferd Belz echoed his wife’s sentiments, saying that when students come to college without experience, it’s easy to get lost, making wraparound services key in paving higher-education pathways at MSU Denver.

“This University is transforming lives, and in turn, those students and graduates are transforming the future of our city and our country,” he said. “It is so important that we invest in these young people and let them change the world — and us.”