Positive Impact Banquet

Hope Forward Impact Banquet

Sitting at a recent Hope Forward Positive Impact Banquet, I had a realization.

While the freshmen students were thanking the guests they invited for the positive impact that they had on them during their first year on campus, perhaps the bigger impact has been how the Hope Forward cohort has positively affected the Hope College campus community.

Isn’t that just like grace? When you set out to do something extraordinarily kind to someone else — like fully funding tuition for students so they are not saddled with overwhelming debt — you end up being more blessed as the giver than the receiver.

In this case, Hope College has been blessed by the incredible generosity of donors for the Hope Forward program. We’ve passed that on by covering the tuition cost for each Hope Forward student. Far from being entitled, these students are deeply grateful for receiving a transformative Christian liberal arts education and that gratefulness is expressing itself in tangible ways that are transforming campus.

Hope Forward students entrusted with the gift of tuition don’t want to let down donors who believe in them. They are fully invested in their education. Students also say they feel the full weight of the covenant they’ve made to give back to Hope faithfully after graduation (at any amount they choose) so even more students can have the same opportunity.

In their Hope Forward co-curricular programming, they not only build community to support each other, but also discuss practical issues like budgeting, managing money, and cultivating gratitude and other character qualities. Students are delving deeply into what it means to be generous and how to live a lifestyle of generosity starting now, while they are on campus. That’s just what they are doing.

Hope Forward Impact Banquet

From the Positive Impact Banquet, here’s a snapshot of what Hope Forward students are learning, what they’re thankful for, and what they want to pass on to others because of what others have done for them:

“We’re living an answered prayer that we get to attend an amazing college.”
“I’ve learned grace — kindness, helpfulness and acceptance by others. It’s not selective. We all need it.”
“Part of giving and receiving grace means forgiveness. You need to give grace to others and to yourself.”
“Being present for others takes commitment and selfless love, something all of you have done.” “Thank you for your whole-hearted care.”
“Generosity is not just about giving financially. It’s giving of your treasures, time and talents. We look to you all with admiration and a desire to give the way you have given to us.”
“Thank you for carrying us on your shoulders and raising us up to be all we can be.”
“Thank you for helping me know that I am not alone.”
“I’ve learned more about the heart, love and character of God through you.”
“Thank you for taking me in on breaks, throwing me a birthday party and having my favorite foods when I come to stay.”
“Thank you for your compassion, generosity and listening ear. You’re my second mom on campus.”
“You’ve inspired me and pushed me to be the best version of myself.”
“My professor did not shy away from reaching out to me during difficult times. He goes above and beyond.”
“You always brighten my day by being someone I can talk to — and always giving me sandwich cookies!”

From something as simple as giving a sandwich cookie to something as significant as faithfully supporting a student with serious health issues, these Hope Forward students couldn’t be more thankful for the positive impact others have had on them during their freshman year.

But, these recipients of generosity and grace aren’t waiting until they graduate to pay it forward. They are spreading it to others— in classrooms, dorms, athletic arenas, study groups, student organizations, dining halls and everywhere they go on campus. Our Hope Forward students are a tangible demonstration of the beautiful ripple effect of God’s grace.

Hope Forward Impact Banquet

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