Making a Difference

Every donation that passes through NOVA Foundation makes a profound difference in the recipient’s life – and every dollar is thanks to our generous donors. Here are some examples of the generosity of our donors.

Donor Recognition

Star Throwing for the Future: Jim and Ellen Dyke establish endowed scholarship for adult students.

Jim and Ellen DykeEducation has always been important to Ellen and Jim. Ellen’s dedication to education, childhood development, and advocacy was forged from her early work experience after college. For two years, she taught the full range of subjects to an ungraded class of delinquent boys, ages 14 to 18, at Boy’s Village in Cheltenham, Maryland. She soon realized that as much as her students needed a teacher, more importantly, they needed a lawyer. During her years at Howard Law School, and later as an associate attorney, she took on pro bono work to represent those incarcerated unfairly. Ellen currently serves as the Chair of the NOVA Foundation. Jim continues to be a strong, regional presence across the business, education, and government arenas in Virginia. He served as Virginia Governor Wilder’s Secretary of Education and as Domestic Policy Advisor to former Vice President Mondale. His dedication to the value of education for all is manifested in his service as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

Together, they have endowed The Ellen and Jim Dyke Star Thrower Scholarship that awards up to $1,000 each year to a student in need. The scholarship takes its name from the Star Thrower Story by Loren Eislely, which the Dykes present with a NOVA twist. The story tells the tale of a small coastal town that woke up one morning after a storm to find thousands of starfish washed ashore. The town leaders noticed a NOVA student walking along the shore, picking up a starfish and throwing it back into the ocean. When asked by the leaders why the student was bothering with such a futile task, the student replied that while one person can’t save all the starfish, with each starfish a person throws back, they will have made a difference.

The scholarship will help adult, degree or certificate-seeking students age 21 and older to receive the credentials needed to advance their careers. Recipients can use the funds for tuition, fees, books or supplies at NOVA.

One in a million: Dr. Richard Semmler donates $1 million to NOVA over his 45-year career.

Dr. SemmlerDr. Semmler has made a profound impact during his long career teaching mathematics NOVA. He has lived modestly, with no frills - no phone, no internet, no vacations, no new car while living in a small apartment and working several part-time jobs in addition to his full-time teaching position. Why? Because he would rather use his income to help change the lives of his students through scholarships and financial aid to those who wouldn’t be able to attend college without his help.

Dr. Semmler was the recipient of scholarship funds when he was in college and he knew that he wanted to pay it forward one day. That day came in 1968 for Dr. Semmler when he bestowed his first donation in the amount of $25 to his alma matter, Plattsburgh State University of New York. Over time that increased as he made various financial contributions and went without many everyday conveniences as well as luxuries to reach the $1-million-dollar mark of donations to NOVA, or as he put it “the caboose finally made it to the train station.”

Donating money and/or time once is honorable, but to do so consistently for 45 years and counting is exceptional. Dr. Semmler is truly an inspiration to all. “It only takes a little amount, $100, $1,000, to invest in the education of a student and make a positive difference in the trajectory of their future,” said Dr. Semmler. “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t make any changes at all.”

Become a donor today

Donors may start a named scholarship with a minimum donation of $5,000. The Foundation can help you set up your scholarship fund, establish the criteria for the award and understand the annual process for selection. A very generous gift of $25,000 allows you to establish a living legacy by creating and naming an Endowed Scholarship Fund.

As an example, look to Wolfgang and Roya Chadab, the founders of the Chadab Foundation for Visual and Performing Arts. Accomplished artists in their own right, the Chadabs aim to support students focused on visual/fine arts, photography, graphic design, cinema, interior design, acting, and music. Their generosity has empowered students to pursue their passions without financial constraints.

For Adriana Pac, receiving the Chadab Foundation Scholarship meant she was able to go back to school and do what she loves: photography. For Helen Binder, the scholarship means she can chase after her Master’s degree and a career as a professional artist.

Wolfgang and Roya have cemented their place in the NOVA Foundation’s history. You can do it to.

We maintain the highest level of confidentiality with respect to our donor information. We never share donor names, addresses, or fund-related financial information with any individual or organization outside of the Foundation.

Learn more about Scholarships



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