This year’s Thank-a-Donor Days event will look different than in past years, but showing appreciation to donors remains an important Redbird tradition. The annual two-day event that began in 2017 will be conducted online this fall. Students who received a scholarship in spring 2020, summer 2020, and/or fall 2020 will be invited to write a thank you letter through a customized online portal beginning on September 15. Students’ letters will be mailed to the founding donors of their scholarships.

Scholarship recipient Brenda Escobedo

Scholarship recipient Brenda Escobedo

Bilingual education major Brenda Escobedo participated in last year’s Thank-a-Donor Days efforts after receiving the Judith Roberts Busey Scholarship. Escobedo is a single mother who commutes to campus for class. She told her donor about her experiences as a non-traditional student and expressed gratitude for the scholarship.

“Your generosity means a great deal for me and my education,” she wrote in her letter. “I was shocked to learn I had been selected to receive such a generous scholarship. In a time when I was struggling financially, this gift lifted a burden off my shoulders.”

More than 400 students thank their donors annually, either at the in-person event or through department efforts. Assistant Director of Donor Communications and Stewardship Laura Freyman is hopeful the new online format will help ISU reach its goal of thanking as many individuals who invest in the University as possible.

“The coronavirus has caused us to pivot in many ways,” said Freyman. “Even though we’ll miss engaging with students in-person at this year’s Thank-a-Donor Days event, we don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to share the amazing impact of donor support at Illinois State and to thank those who make student scholarships possible.”

Private support is integral to the Redbird experience. To learn more about creating a scholarship for Illinois State students, visit