“You need others in your corner”

Love for Jesuit education inspires scholarship gift from the Maguire Foundation

By Rita Buettner  |  Photo courtesy of the Maguire Foundation

As a high school student, James J. Maguire struggled academically. He went to Niagara University on a basketball scholarship, but had to transfer to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

His grades were so low that he couldn’t be deferred from the draft, and he spent nearly two years serving in the Korean War. When he returned from the war and went back to St. Joseph’s, a Jesuit priest took a special interest in Maguire. That priest was the first to recognize that Maguire had dyslexia—not commonly diagnosed in the 1950s.

Now 81, Maguire has retired from a successful career running Philadelphia Insurance Companies, which he founded in 1960. He credits his success to that priest who took an interest in him and realized he had a learning disability.

So it’s no wonder that Maguire is an advocate for Jesuit education—and that, with his wife of 57 years, Frannie, as principals of the Maguire Foundation, he supports students by funding scholarships at Loyola University Maryland and 22 other colleges, primarily in and around Pennsylvania.

“Mr. Maguire is very grateful for his own education at St. Joseph’s and believes in supporting other Jesuit institutions,” said Amy Holdsman, executive director of the Maguire Foundation, a non-profit organization based in West Conshohocken, Pa., that partners with educational institutions to provide scholarships and grants for students from families with limited financial resources.

A $400,000 gift to Loyola from the Maguire Foundation will establish a scholarship fund for students who demonstrate financial need. Scholarships through the new Maguire Scholars Program will be available to students who attended one of the Greater Philadelphia-area Catholic and charter high schools included in a network designated by the foundation. In addition, students must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and be engaged in community service and/or extracurricular activities to qualify for a scholarship award, and they must remain in good academic standing and active in service while at Loyola.

“A lot of our philosophy is based on St. Ignatius of Loyola and creating men and women for others. That informs Mr. Maguire’s approach to philanthropy—his underlying belief that completing a college education really is a marker for success,” Holdsman said.

The Maguire Scholars Program provides need-based scholarships to more than 1,000 students per year across the mid-Atlantic region. The Foundation recently began awarding scholarships to students at Pennsylvania State, Fordham University, University of Scranton, and Loyola.

“What we’re trying to do is create a pathway of scholarship support for students starting as early as the sixth grade,” Holdsman said. “College graduation in four years is the goal, which is challenging for a lot of people. This long-term investment helps to ensure these students’ success.”

From 2015-18, up to $25,000 in scholarships will be divided among at least three incoming Loyola first-year students each year. Student awardees will receive the same dollar amount for each of their four years at Loyola. The scholarships are meant to replace a portion of what the students would have borrowed in student loans.

“You need others in your corner,” Holdsman said. “As a piece of our scholarship program, we ask that representatives of the University stay connected to the students and co-invest in their education, so they don’t, in fact, fall through the cracks. We ask the students to help and support themselves. This is a true partnership in which everyone has skin in the game.”

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