CLEMSON — In less than two years, what began simply as an informational presentation about the ClemsonLIFE program to the university’s Board of Visitors has evolved into a grant-in-aid endowment to assist student participants and a supporting $100,000 gift from Clemson President James P. Clements and his wife, Beth.

The Clemson Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE) program is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who want a postsecondary experience on a college campus. Its mission is to provide a program of study that includes career exploration and preparation, along with self-awareness, discovery and personal improvement through a framework of courses, job internships and community participation.

ClemsonLIFEIn 2015, after learning about ClemsonLIFE, the spouses of the university’s Board of Visitors established an endowment to provide grants-in-aid to students enrolled in the program. They named it the Grace Catherine Clements ClemsonLIFE Endowed Grant-in-Aid in honor of the youngest daughter of the Clements’.

“The ClemsonLIFE program is a life-changer for these students and their families, but the cost of attendance can be a challenge,” said Debbie Lee, chair of the fundraising initiative and wife of Clemson trustee Ronnie Lee. “The establishment of the grant-in-aid by the Board of Visitors is meant to help offset the financial burden for deserving students.

“We chose to name the grant-in-aid in honor of ‘amazing’ Grace Clements because of her big personality and the inspirational way she lives her life.”

Like Thomas Green Clemson, the Clements believe that one person can make a difference. An endowment is the foundation upon which Clemson University was built and will help Clemson continue to provide quality education in perpetuity.

The Clements have enthusiastically endorsed ClemsonLIFE and its students since they came to Clemson. Now, the Clements have given $100,000 to support the program and the grant-in-aid endowment that will provide financial assistance to its students.

“What the ClemsonLIFE program does for its students is simply amazing and is the embodiment of the very best nature of the Clemson family,” said Clements. “Beth and I were humbled that the Board of Visitors established the endowment in Grace’s honor, and we are thrilled to be able to support this endowment that will help students take part in this wonderful program. Our hope is that Grace one day will be a ClemsonLIFE student herself.”

Student selection for the grant-in-aid is made in accordance with the university’s standard policies for administering annual scholarships, fellowships, grants-in-aid and awards. The number of grants-in-aid and monetary amount awarded each year is decided annually by the College of Education and financial aid office with input from the ClemsonLIFE advisory board.

“ClemsonLIFE is a self-supported, postsecondary education program that provides young adults with intellectual disabilities a collegiate experience at one of the premier programs in the nation,” said Erica Walters, ClemsonLIFE coordinator. “Generous gifts from President and Mrs. Clements, the Board of Visitors’ spouses and other donors have provided the financial support to continue our mission of preparing these young adults with the skills necessary to gain meaningful employment and live independently.

“ClemsonLIFE is extremely grateful for this leadership and support, which has helped us expand the program to achieve our goal of serving 40 students by 2020 and ensure that ClemsonLIFE continues to encourage, guide, mentor and foster the abilities of these young people — abilities that will serve them for a lifetime.”

To learn more about ClemsonLIFE and the Grace Catherine Clements ClemsonLIFE Endowed Grant-in-Aid, see http://www.clemson.edu/education/culife/.

The grant-in-aid endowment and the Clements’ gift are both part of Clemson’s The Will to Lead capital campaign, which raised more than $1 billion to support students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

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