‘All I can do is help somebody along the way’: Retired teachers give $200K to endow scholarships for 200 students at HBCU

Just a few miles from Johns Hopkins University, the recent beneficiary of a $1.8 billion gift from Michael Bloomberg, Coppin State University celebrates an equally significant philanthropic commitment: $200,000 of lifetime giving from a pair of retired teachers to their alma mater to support 200 student scholarships, a benevolent fund for homeless students, and other student support and enrichment services, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Florine and James Camphor, 82 and 91, began giving to the historically Black university as young alumni and continued “scrimping and saving” throughout their careers as Maryland public school educators so that, through philanthropy, they could “make sure money never stands between a young person and a college degree.” Their $200,000 of lifetime giving makes them Coppin State’s largest donors and represents “a double-digit percentage” of their total wealth.

“It shows you don’t have to be rich to give,” said Alicia Wilson, incoming chairwoman of Baltimore’s CollegeBound Foundation.

The Camphors’ giving has a disproportionate impact, given Coppin State’s population of largely first-generation college students from low-income families; a college degree can open the door to middle-class career opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible. Beyond formally funding scholarships, the Camphors are known for offering individual assistance to students struggling with living costs and establishing a fund to provide necessities for homeless students.

The couple is also a regular presence on campus, known to all as “Peaches and Winky”—and that presence is a big part of their impact, according to university President Maria Thompson. “They get involved with the students. They make sure they get into personal conversations, find out what their aspirations are,” she said. “They are philanthropic in the true sense of the word.”

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