Kent State and KeyBank Foundation to Continue Key Connections Program for Underserved Students

KeyBank Foundation has awarded a new $200,000 gift to Kent State University to continue KeyBank Foundation’s support for the successful Key Connections program offered by University College at Kent State. The Key Connections program will continue to support student success initiatives for underserved students, including first-generation students and students from limited income backgrounds who will enroll in Fall Semester 2022.

“The KeyBank Foundation is proud to partner with the Kent State University Foundation to help the Key Connections program grow,” said Eric Dellapina, market president and commercial sales leader for KeyBank in East Ohio. “We are committed to helping local students and families thrive by providing financial assistance to help them reach their goals. This investment will help ensure a bright future for many Kent State students and build strong communities in our region for years to come.”

During the next four years, this gift will provide direct funding to support professional development, including internships and conference participation, research support and other student success initiatives for students. Summer Advantage Bootcamp, the first opportunity for students to participate this summer, is a weeklong residential experience designed to give incoming students an impactful early college student experience. Students will be introduced to campus resources, staff and services to prepare them for future careers through a support network of peers and professional staff. The summer experience includes academic support, service learning, and professional and personal development workshops.

“I am honored that KeyBank Foundation is committed to partnering with Kent State through University College once again to remove financial, personal and academic barriers for our students,” said Eboni Pringle, Ph.D., dean of University College at Kent State. “Our initial partnership led to substantial gains in student persistence and graduation, and we look forward to continuing this trajectory with its newest investment.” 

This new gift follows an initial $1 million gift made by KeyBank Foundation in 2017 that created the original Key Connections student success initiative focused on increasing degree completion of underserved students. Four-year graduation rates for this inaugural group of students were 15% higher than the previous four-year graduation rate of underserved students. This substantial increase in the four-year graduation rate is on par with the university’s overall four-year graduation rate. 

“Receiving the Key Connections scholarship helped my family from being stressed about me continuing my education, and the scholarship helped cover my tuition balance and course supplies for two semesters,” said Jordan Pickrum, an applied engineering major in Kent State’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you.” 
For more information about University College at Kent State, visit

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Photo Caption:
Representatives from KeyBank Foundation visit with University College staff and Key Connections alumni and students at Kent State University. 

Pictured are:
(Front row, left to right) James Walker, student; Robin Fredericks, alumna; Arielis Resto, alumna; and Jordan Pickrum, student. 
(Rear row, left to right) Eboni Pringle, Kent State; Eric Dellapina, KeyBank; Amanda Petrak, KeyBank Foundation; Marko Ayala, Kent State; and Tyrone Berry, Kent State. 
Media Contacts: 
Meg Lower, KeyBank Foundation,, 216-689-6507 
Leigh Greenfelder, Kent State University,, 330-672-7108 

POSTED: Wednesday, March 23, 2022 04:25 PM
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 16, 2024 04:44 PM