Businessman, philanthropist John Chase donates $10 million to University of the Pacific

By Keith Michaud

Inspired by his own good fortune and a desire to give back to Stockton, Chase Chevrolet owner John Chase has donated $10 million to University of the Pacific’s Community Involvement Program (CIP), which has helped low-income Stockton students attain college degrees for the past 50 years.

A $5 million Powell Match to Chase’s irrevocable estate commitment will immediately fund the Chase Your Dreams Endowed Community Outreach Fund and the Chase Your Dreams Endowed Scholarship benefiting CIP, a comprehensive need-based program for first-generation college students from Stockton who have shown leadership and community involvement. It also extends the total donation to at least $15 million. The Powell Match, created as part of the $125 million gift from the estate of former regents Robert and Jeannette Powell, has more than $50 million available to match new or enhanced scholarship or academic program endowments at 100% for outright gifts or 50% for estate commitments, such as this gift. The focus of the latest gift will be on CIP outreach, scholarships and mentoring for students, especially for those transferring from San Joaquin Delta College.

“The CIP program is a jewel at University of the Pacific,” Chase said. “With this gift, imagine how many lives we will change in 20 years … in 100 years. I’ve been very fortunate in my life and have the opportunity to give back to my community. I can’t really put it into words. It’s something that comes from the heart.” The impact will be immediate, ongoing and far-reaching for Stockton’s future.

“John Chase’s incredible gift has the potential of lifting the community by increasing the chances of a college education for more Stockton youth,” said Maria Pallavicini, Pacific’s interim president. “That’s vital for a city where last year only 17.4% of the population had a bachelor’s degree or better.”

Chase’s generosity is already benefitting local students. He established a scholarship in honor of his father, William K. Chase, which is awarded each year to two CIP students to help “close the gap in opportunity for those with aptitude who exceed their circumstances, especially for those whose character is community service oriented.” And for the past several years, Chase has financially supported CIP’s mentoring and outreach at Cleveland Elementary School and Dr. Lewis D. Stallworth Sr. Charter School, and soon at Delta College.

“The Pell Institute cites a 21% retention through graduation rate for low income, first-generation college students nationally, while CIP’s retention through graduation rate is 87%,” said Allison Dumas, associate vice president for student involvement and equity, herself a first-generation college graduate and alumna of both Delta College and Pacific. “The counseling, mentoring and friendships along with the identity and leadership development they find in CIP helps them succeed here at Pacific, and that’s exciting to see. John has been impressed by CIP students and the impact they’ve had with community youth. His generosity will help so many more first-generation students achieve their dreams.”

This is one of the largest gifts in Pacific’s history, after the $125 million Robert and Jeannette Powell bequest in October 2013. A portion of that gift created the Powell Match to encourage others to give. “I wanted to do something special, something that had merit,” Chase said of the new gift.

“I wanted to do this, and the only thing I want in return is for the students who receive the scholarships is to give back to the communities from which they came.” CIP, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary, was founded in 1969 by Pacific students, faculty and staff who wanted to diversify the campus population. Besides need-based scholarships, CIP students receive resources such as tutoring, peer mentoring and networking with an extensive alumni group.

CIP alumni include former astronaut Jóse Hernández ’85; musician and actor Chris Issak ’80; Pacific regents Armando Flores ’71 and Bo Yu ’93; University of San Francisco’s Vice Provost of Diversity, Engagement and Community Outreach Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi ’89; San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Mary Aguirre ’86, ’89; and Mary Ann Gomez Orta ’89, president and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, among other leaders.

The program boasts an 87% six-year average graduation rate, far better than the national average of 60%. (The six-year average graduation rate is the federal benchmark for first-time, full-time undergraduate students at four-year colleges and universities to earn a bachelor’s degree.) More than 1,500 students have graduated from the CIP program over the past five decades.

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