Family ties lead to lesson in giving
Parents’ philanthropy inspires new generation of Bulldogs
Jeff and Allison Mitchell live on a steady diet of maroon and orange in the college town of Blacksburg, Virginia, where both Jeff and Allison are Virginia Tech alumni, regularly attending football games to cheer on the Hokies. Despite this familiar connection with Virginia Tech, their daughter Elizabeth Grace (ABJ ’21) elected to forge her own path at the University of Georgia.
Elizabeth Grace’s time in Athens offered her an education needed to succeed beyond graduation and it provided valuable lessons around the importance of giving and service. So, while Jeff and Allison may have earned their degrees elsewhere, they’re now building a legacy of giving alongside their daughter at UGA.
New Colors, Same Focus
When Elizabeth Grace arrived on campus, Jeff and Allison instantly joined the Bulldog family, swapping out their Hokies’ attire for red and black. They regularly visited the Classic City during Elizabeth Grace’s four years in Athens, engaging, giving and serving, primarily through service on UGA’s Parents Leadership Council, to demonstrate what a legacy of giving looks like.
“We wanted Elizabeth Grace to understand that supporting her university is something she needed to take the long-term view on,” Jeff said. “Don’t put it off and think ‘I’ll start giving later;’ get started now.”
Giving back is as natural for Jeff and Allison as breathing; they provide ample philanthropic support to a host of institutions and organizations, including their alma mater. They lead by example to ensure those lessons of generous giving are passed on to Elizabeth Grace.
Creating a New Legacy
As graduation neared, Jeff and Allison wanted to honor their daughter’s time at UGA and illustrate why giving is important. The Mitchells decided to recognize her with a legacy gift — a philanthropic gift made in honor of her time at UGA — establishing the Elizabeth Grace Mitchell Student Support Fund.
They sought her involvement, working with her to identify what she wanted the fund to address on campus. Elizabeth Grace recommended that the fund provide financial support to students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication who are majoring in her field of study, entertainment and media studies (EMST).
“The Mitchell family’s support of student projects will help us fuel EMST film projects – the very heart of the department’s experiential learning efforts,” said Charles Davis (MA ’92) the dean of the Grady College. “This sort of support takes on increasing importance the more hands-on work we do as a college, so we deeply appreciate the fund and what it signifies.”
The fund also gives the opportunity for Elizabeth Grace to engage philanthropically with UGA right after graduation. She’ll contribute directly to it, allowing her to start her own journey of giving while building a legacy that endures long after she’s graduated.
More Opportunities with PLC
In addition to the legacy gift, the Mitchells joined the Parents Leadership Council (PLC) during Elizabeth Grace’s freshman year. Ultimately, this decision launched the couple’s philanthropic journey at UGA.
The PLC offered the chance for their family to build a meaningful connection with the university, including a social network that Jeff and Allison could trust would support Elizabeth Grace during her time in Athens. The service-oriented group provides funding through parents’ annual gifts to various student programs and initiatives on campus.
In the last decade, the group has awarded more than $3.8 million to undergraduate student organizations and is the top supporter of the President’s Venture Fund. The response to these types of needs, as well as the opportunity to help prioritize what needs should be addressed, resonated with Jeff and Allison. It allowed them to proactively help determine how their contributions improved campus—something they offered their daughter when setting up the Elizabeth Grace Mitchell Student Support Fund.
Forever Connected to the Bulldog Family
For Jeff and Allison, establishing the legacy gift for Elizabeth Grace is the culmination of a series of relationships, experiences and opportunities that ultimately will connect them to UGA for the rest of their lives.
“Everybody knows the University of Georgia, but to have your daughter attend from out-of-state and understand the brand and the legacy here, it’s just special,” Jeff said. “We’ve met many, many passionate UGA alumni, and their joy and passion are infectious. You spend any time here, and you just get it. So, we’re happy to celebrate Elizabeth Grace and support the University of Georgia.”
Jeff and Allison hope their philanthropy will inspire other Bulldog parents to establish their own legacies in honor of their students’ UGA experiences. Doing so enables the next generation to strengthen UGA by creating new avenues to success for future Bulldogs.
Want to know more? Consider being a part of parent philanthropy at UGA and establishing your own legacy gift to benefit future generations of Bulldogs! Learn more about UGA’s Parent Fund and Parent Leadership Council.
Written by Johnathan McGinty (ABJ ’00)