In fall 2020, when operations on the Metropolitan State University of Denver campus were fully remote, the Army ROTC program received an inquiry from a prospective donor, not knowing how that call would transform the program and the lives of its cadets.

Over the last two years, Brian and Debra Crew’s passion and philanthropy have significantly impacted the Army ROTC program, providing funds for an ROTC house “facelift” and grants for cadets needing financial assistance.

The Crew’s affinity for the program began in the 1990s while attending the University of Denver.

Military honor guards march with flags during the start of the Tri-Institutional Veterans Day ceremony on Auraria Campus, Denver, Colo. Nov. 11, 2017.

“At the time, the only ROTC program was at MSU Denver,” said Brian Crew. “In addition to taking classes full-time and ROTC, we were on Auraria Campus early each morning for physical training.”

Crew says the things he and Debra learned in ROTC had a tremendous impact on their military and civilian careers. Grateful for their experiences, the couple wanted to direct funds to the MSU Denver program.

One of the first orders of business was to make much-needed updates to the ROTC house, located on historical 9th Street Park. “We wanted to make the house a central place where students can do homework, team build and create camaraderie,” he said.

ROTC students posing for a photo of a building on 9th Street Park with an Army flag

Initial upgrades included new carpet and flooring, updated décor, a picture display honoring ROTC alums, rebuilding the rear fence and a fresh coat of paint. The next phase of renovations will create an outdoor space for teaching and team-building events, as well as new AV equipment and enhanced technology, allowing cadets to complete presentations and learn together.

“The ROTC house updates have improved our program’s ability to teach, coach and mentor future Army officers,” said Capt. Nathaniel Wherley, senior assistant professor of military science. “More importantly, Brian and Debra’s support has directly improved our ability to recruit and maintain quality cadets in our program.”

In addition to the remodel, seven cadets have received grants to help fund the cost of their education. Many cadets work two or three jobs – some are also single parents – and the Crews wanted to provide those students with a more normal life and balanced educational experience.

“Their next step is to become officers in the Army and serve our country,” said Crew. “It was important to find a way to allow these cadets to have one less worry while in school.”

Wherley says that with the Crew’s yearly grants, they can support cadets who might otherwise drop out of the program. “It ensures we can continue to maintain the best cadets who will go on to successful careers serving the U.S. Army,” he said.

For Brian and Debra, being involved has been a rewarding experience.

“Every time I read the writeup of a cadet who has received a grant, I’m amazed by the challenge they face and how hard they work,” said Crew. “It encourages us to do more.”

For more information about supporting Army ROTC at MSU Denver, contact Allyssa Joseph, director of development.