Luckyday Foundation to donate $8.7 million for scholarships

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On Nov. 29, Southern Miss announced that the Luckyday Foundation of Ridgeland, Mississippi committed more than $8.7 million to the Luckyday Citizenship Scholars Program through the USM Foundation. Although the Luckyday Foundation has given several gifts to Southern Miss since 2001, this donation is the largest on record.

Director of the Luckyday Citizenship Program Larry Sparkman, Ph.D., explained what this commitment means for Southern Miss students.

“All the Luckyday Foundation’s gifts have been used to benefit students through scholarships aimed at helping them attend Southern Miss and significantly decrease debt while also helping students pursue study abroad opportunities and enhancing their sense of community through interactive living-learning communities, service and leadership development,” Sparkman said through email.

Having provided over $35.7 million to the program, the Luckyday Foundation is one Southern Miss’ major donators to date.

“The latest gift of $8.7 million is a continuation of [the Luckyday Foundation’s] support for the next four years,” Sparkman said.

Under Sparkman’s leadership, the program has developed “a national reputation for excellence due to the innovative programs it is able to provide because of the Luckyday Foundation’s generosity,” according to a Southern Miss Now article.

As stated on the Luckyday Scholars website, the continued investment will provide each incoming scholarship recipient with a $6,000 scholarship per year—an increase from the previous $5,000 scholarship per year.
This scholarship is awarded to about 80 incoming students each year. Upperclassmen Luckyday students also have the opportunity to receive an additional $4,000 scholarship, which may be used to fund a study abroad program.

In addition to helping students financially, the program also aims to provide intentional student engagement and structured personal development.

“Not only has the program graciously helped me financially with my education, but it has also helped me evolve and maintain my leadership and service skills,” junior Luckyday Scholar and social work major Jane Claire Arender said in regard to the program’s impact on her educational career.

Senior Luckyday Scholar and criminal justice major Toni Peterson also praised Luckyday’s impact on her time at Southern Miss.

“Luckyday has given me a greater appreciation for how to serve and what it means to serve. I have been challenged to step out of my comfort zone, foster lifelong friendships and grow as a servant leader,” Peterson said. “I am forever grateful for the Luckyday Program for investing in me and my education. Without it, I would not have been able to attend Southern Miss.”

University President Rodney D. Bennett noted his appreciation for the continued support from the Luckyday Foundation.

“The Foundation’s generosity will impact many more young scholars who will make significant contributions across the state of Mississippi as they grow into our next generation of great leaders,” Bennett said in an article by Southern Miss Now.

Thus far, the Luckyday Citizenship Scholars Program has proven to be successful. Excluding the 425 students currently involved in the program, a total of 1,136 Luckyday Scholars have graduated from Southern Miss since 2006.