Lincoln College, originally chartered Lincoln University in 1865, is a 156-year-old private, liberal arts college, fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Lincoln College has the honor of being the first and only college or university in existence in the world named after President Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. Lincoln College, designated as a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) by the U.S. Department of Education, educates many student demographics that are often overlooked by other institutions of higher education, including 66% of our students identifying as a racial or ethnic minority, with at least 43% of our students being first generation. Many come from lower-income or single parent families, with Pell-eligible students representing 61% of the College’s enrollment. More than 50% of the College’s traditional-age enrollment is drawn from the greater Chicago and St. Louis, MO areas, with an additional 20% having a permanent address in an area defined as rural. For the past 11 years, Lincoln College has been the only rural PBI in the Midwest and one of only seven rural PBI institutions in the United States. Lincoln College has always had a student-centered philosophy, and is prepared and committed to seeing our students through to graduation. It is for these reasons, along with limited financial resources, that the generosity of our donors is so important for our students and institution.
*The purple marker designates Lincoln College's location while the blue markers represent other PBI institutions located in the United States.
As with many educational institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant strain on our students, faculty, and institution. Despite significant efforts to update and improve our safety measures on campus to keep our community safe, we have seen a 20% decrease in enrollment and a cancellation of many of our annual fundraising events that we rely on to continue the funding of many of our programs. These uncertain times have put the long-term future of Lincoln College in question. In addition, Lincoln College is a large employer in the community of Lincoln, Illinois, a rural, economically-depressed town in central Illinois, and has an annual $53 million impact on the local community’s economy, so the College is a vital cog in the well-being of this area.
Lincoln College is asking for financial assistance to ensure the long-term viability of Lincoln College, allowing us to continue transforming students’ lives and realizing their full potential for generations to come. Your generosity would support several areas including:
- Student support services – COVID-19 has strained existing healthcare resources on our campus. Funds would be used to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our students through expanded access to health services. This would include adding healthcare and mental health professionals, as we currently have only one nurse and one counselor for nearly 1000 students. In addition, funds would also be used to offer additional academic support services including academic coaching, tutoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, and other supportive intervention measures aimed at improving the retention and graduation rate for our at-risk students over the next five years.
- Scholarship support – With many of our students coming from lower-income or single parent families, as many as 48% of our students cannot afford to contribute even $1000 toward the cost of their education. Your support would be used to help ease the financial strain of attending college and make a huge financial difference for students and their families, allowing many students to attend Lincoln College who may otherwise have not been able to afford to attend.
- Building renovation – in 2018, a local nursing home facility relocated to their newly built location and donated their old building to Lincoln College. This building, which had stood empty for several years, will undoubtedly become a local eyesore for our community without the intervention of Lincoln College. Funds would be used to renovate and equip this building to house students who test positive for COVID-19 during their recommended time in quarantine, allowing them to continue their studies and recover in a safe environment. Post-pandemic, the building would provide much needed off-campus housing for our students, thus allowing the college to continue to grow.
- Improvements in technology access and upgrades – funds would be used to assist our students who do not have access to laptops for remote learning by purchasing laptop computers for use during the academic year, hotspots for students who lack internet access, additional personnel to expand technical support, and update the technology infrastructure in several of our older buildings on campus.
- Create a COVID-19 related fund for students. We recognize students may face extra financial challenges related to COVID-19 such as the loss of a job or source of parental income. Support from this emergency fund would provide desperately needed assistance to continue their studies. This emergency fund would provide students with funds.
The impact your support would make on the lives of our current and future students, institution, and our local community, would be truly life-changing and allow Lincoln College to persevere through these uncertain times, coming out on the other side of this pandemic a stronger, more secure institution. This investment in Lincoln College would allow us to continue serving those who are underserved and giving those who never thought they would be able to attend college a chance to reach their dreams. You are in the unique position to make a truly life-changing impact in Lincoln College and, during this trying time in our history, make a transformational difference that will be felt for generations to come.
We thank you for your time and hope that you will give consideration to this request. To learn more about Lincoln College, we invite you to explore other areas of our website while you’re here. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me directly at (217) 735-7200 or [email protected].
Thank you again and we look forward to hearing back from you.
David M. Gerlach, Ph.D.
President, Lincoln College
 Rurality of a zip code was defined using the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy definitions.