Strength and Hope Campaign

The grand, enduring mission of Olivet has stood the test of time and remains unchanged. A combination of careful stewardship, success and visionary leadership has provided a unique window — a pathway to ensure the “Olivet Experience” is available to an increasing number of students.

Make a Gift

An invitation to Partnership

Olivet is a special place with an important mission.

We believe the world desperately needs Olivet graduates to be salt and light for Christ’s sake.

Together, we can write the next chapter. We ask you to partner with us, through the Strength and Hope Campaign, to advance the mission and ensure the accessibility, vibrancy and sustainability of Olivet in this season.

You may choose to direct your gifts to one of our strategic PAVER priorities, or you may choose to direct your gift to the Core Mission Fund where it will fund the most pressing needs of the University.

Share Your Story

Supporting Student Success

Persistence ($17.5M)

College is a good investment, but only if you graduate.

Only 75% of students who start college return for their second year. Even after six years, less than 60% of students at four-year colleges have earned a bachelor’s degree. More than 1 million college students drop out of college every year. Students who drop out of college are almost 100 times more likely to default on their student loans than students who graduate.

Our Response

Praise the Lord that graduation rates for Olivet students keep rising. We can do better to address hurdles, especially for at-risk students, and see at least 7 in 10 complete their degree. Our purpose isn’t merely attracting new students but producing faith-integrated graduates.

Success Story

Jacob Sims learned persistence from a young age. Growing up in a household filled with instability, he took the hardships in stride by skateboarding 15 miles to get to work; saving up to buy a car; getting to school on his own; even joining Boy Scouts and earning his way to an Eagle Scout designation. He found a clear vision for how to make the most of his time at Olivet and how to succeed in life.


Supporting at-risk students during key milestones toward academic progress and a life of service

5-Year Funding Goal: $200,000

Students need help understanding and meeting expectations during key transitions in their time at Olivet. The Bridge Program will assist students in overcoming gaps in academic content and preparation, as well as in life skills that affect all areas of personal and professional growth. Additional funding will strengthen current programs and create new ones for at-risk students.


5-Year Funding Goal: $10 Million 

While growth of the student body caused us to add 20 apartment buildings to campus housing, our inner campus residence halls are at risk of becoming an enrollment and persistence deterrent. An expansive renovation of these home-away-from-home facilities has become a priority. With the increasing expectations of today’s university students, the quality of life in campus residence halls is critical for recruiting and retaining students. We seek to create beautiful, welcoming and productive spaces where students will thrive and healthy relationships will flourish.

Examples of renovation projects in Chapman, Williams, McClain, Nesbitt, Parrott, Hills and Howe Halls include: replace dorm furniture, update and refresh rooms, refresh and update common spaces, replace all flooring and remodel restrooms, replace alarm system for exterior doors, replace exterior doors, and update drinking fountains to bottle-fill stations.


Creating interdisciplinary student experiences

5-Year Funding Goal: $275,000 

The RISE (Reinforced Interdisciplinary Student Experience) Initiative is a new targeted effort to improve student persistence for students who come to Olivet as freshmen from underserved backgrounds or have faced educational challenges in high school. This program will provide cohort classes, intensive advising, a social support network, events and personal mentoring over the first two years in college for each RISE student. The 2023 academic year is the inaugural year for the RISE program.


5-Year Funding Goal: $800,000

This initiative is part of a concerted effort to give our students a distinctive edge in the marketplace and to open doors for job placement after graduation. Finding valuable internships and landing great jobs are essential to prospective students and their parents when choosing a college, as well as an important aspect of student persistence while in college. The purpose of BILO is to serve as a gateway program to foster collaborative opportunities through hands-on marketplace learning engagement.

Increasing Student Access

Affordability ($12.5M)

A national debate is brewing about the actual and perceived value of higher education.

In January 2022, U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics reported, “College affordability is a major concern for families, and paying for college looms large for students, particularly students who would be the first in their families to earn a degree.

Our Response

Average indebtedness for Olivet students decreased 15% over the past decade — yes, decreased — but we’re seeing a “misery gap” increase for a growing number of students who desire the Olivet experience but lack the capacity to pay for it. Today, half of the students who receive a financial aid package award based on academic merit still can’t attend. We want to ensure that financial need does not prevent a deserving student from attending Olivet.

Success Story

Skyler Blanton ’23: “When I first started looking at Olivet, the price tag scared me. I quickly learned that Olivet offers many ways to receive scholarships and extra funds. Through those scholarships, I am able to focus my time at Olivet without having to worry.”


5-Year Funding Goal: $5 Million

A growing number of students need added financial help if they are to enroll and graduate from Olivet! Help us help them through your gifts that provide hope. Many of these students are the first generation in their family to attend college. Your support helps us provide the margin they need after loans, family contributions and savings for college.


Creating a Movement of Generosity

5-Year Funding Goal: $5 Million

In the life of any great movement or organization, there is a dedicated group of individuals who provide generous influence, unwavering belief and uncommon support. Today, we seek to create a new and growing movement of annual giving generosity. To help us more than double the number of leadership giving society donors who will make an annual gift of $1,000 or more, we are seeking several individuals to help us provide a $1 million challenge grant. The goal of this project is to grow and sustain annual fund giving by $2 million annually.


5-Year Funding Goal: $100,000 Million 

The Debt Free in Five initiative is a new program designed to help graduates with a personalized plan to get out of college debt within five years of graduation. This seminar will provide practical and strategic ways to tackle debt. In addition, a biblical view of making and managing money will be discussed and emphasized.


Make Olivet more accessible through affordable programming

5-Year Funding Goal: $975,000 Million 

To make Olivet more accessible to more students through affordable programming, Olivet is launching ONU+. Through this new affordability initiative, Olivet is partnering with local congregations to create local Olivet educational centers. This is a meaningful response to the college debt crisis. Online degrees are currently offered in Business, Christian Ministry, Child Development, Computer Science and Cybersecurity with new degrees being created.

While initial funding is already secured, additional funding will expand our reach and quicken our pace. Additional recruitment staff will result in more church partners, which, in turn, results in more students and families impacted.

Preparing Thought Leaders

Virtue ($11.5M)

The world is desperate for principled, virtuous, dedicated leaders at all levels of civil society: education, business, government, media, culture, the arts, and the Church.

We need leaders who know what to think and how to think — leaders who will lead strategic public and private institutions to advance the cause of Christ. With all the incessant chatter and aggressive competition for the minds and hearts of university students, we must call students to something greater.

Our Response

We will focus on moral issues in our culture, strengthen student capacity to think biblically, and launch thought leaders and influencers into the world. Emphases are mental health, race tensions, conviction and compassion for Biblical sexuality, and a more focused discipleship. We recommit ourselves to a winsome center rather than lose ourselves in accommodating the circumference.

Success Story

Nathan Gonzalez’s professors in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry encouraged him to pursue graduate work. “At Olivet, I enjoyed the different theological perspectives which helped me discover and defend my own beliefs. I look forward to diving deeper. I am excited to solidify my calling and use what I learn to give back to people. Building personal relationships with my professors taught me the importance of seeing education as a part of my call to ministry. All the time I invested at Olivet learning, studying, reading and articulating the Scriptures has shaped my life and future service.”


5-Year Funding Goal: $3.75 Million

Chapel and the spiritual life initiatives provide a unique environment to grow in grace and truth. Moments empowered by the Holy Spirit and centered on the Word of God and the best of Christian thought are essential to the Olivet experience. We seek to strengthen chapel programming and enhance discipleship initiatives, expanding opportunities for students to form an expressive and vibrant faith that informs all of life.


Providing faith formation and frontline ministry impact

5-Year Funding Goal: $390,000

One of the critical aspects of the higher purpose value within higher education at Olivet is challenging students to put faith into action by providing tangible opportunities for them to change the world around them. We encourage students to find a calling beyond a career and to partner with God to restore broken things in practical ways while earning their degree. Through the Shalom Project, we seek to inspire, empower and equip students to bring the Kingdom about in our world through short-term ministry trips, student-led ministries and community engagement.


Resident director and resident assistant sponsorships

5-Year Funding Goal: $1.3 Million 

Resident Directors and Assistants are on the frontlines of the Olivet experience, helping to create a sense of belonging for students. These campus leaders provide shared experiences in our residence halls that create life-changing communities. And through these life-changing communities, lifelong friendships are forged. They lead in spiritual development and formation, become peer mentors, life coaches, and best friends with those they serve. These leaders develop an iron sharpening iron environment in which to grow the next generation of servant leaders.


Increase the well-being of our campus 

5-Year Funding Goal: $1.7 Million 

Counseling Services seeks to enhance individual student lives and the educational process by helping students become their best selves through reducing or being able to better cope with emotional and social barriers to learning and wellness. Counseling Services offers individual, couples, group and crisis counseling to all traditional undergraduate students taking 7 or more credit hours. Counseling Services also provides consultation to faculty, staff and families plus a complement of campus programming of a preventative nature. Mental health services directly impact students’ ability to thrive in life, create healthy relationships, and persist at Olivet.

Securing Olivet’s Future

Effective Stewardship ($10M)

We are building a premier Christian university with all the requisite commitments to quality and excellence in academics, physical plant, athletics, the arts and the student experience.

We want students to thrive for generations to come, but the current state of the economy and the increasing rates of inflation put pressure on the University.

Our Response

In an era when higher-ed costs are spiraling out of control, Olivet is committed to keeping the cost of education as affordable as possible. Our ability to maintain affordable tuition depends on our commitment to fiscal responsibility and the generosity of our donors. We show respect to God and donors by stewarding their gifts well and by operating more efficiently in areas like energy consumption, technology and administrative nimbleness. Your gifts can make Olivet thrive, ensuring students are equipped to serve and lead.

Success Story

Solar Panels: In 2021, Olivet installed 3,100 solar panels on two campus buildings through a partnership with SunVest Solar. The panels have generated 210,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity — saving nearly $6,600 — and have prevented approximately 329,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. SunVest maintains and monitors the panels, and students gain a greater understanding of the need for more renewable energy sources.


5-Year Funding Goal: $7.25 Million

For Olivet to be a dynamic and thriving campus community, it takes a purposeful commitment to efficiencies while creating the best in our living and learning environments. This commitment requires continuing upgrades to technology, innovation, infrastructure, and more recently renewable energy. Help us keep Olivet an innovative and efficient campus.


5-Year Funding Goal: $20 Million

Endowed funding of scholarships and programming secures the future of Olivet while preserving excellence. Sustaining the future of the University is made possible through principal and planned giving gifts. Endowed gifts secure vital components of Olivet’s mission, providing funding for programming in critical areas of the student and academic experience and much-needed support to students through scholarships. At Olivet, an operational endowment of $135 million would provide $6 million in annual support to the University. Current endowments in the ONU Foundation for the 2022–2023 academic year alone provided $2.2 million in program support and scholarships through donor generosity. Endowed possibilities are limitless and will fuel the mission for generations to come.


5-Year Funding Goal: $2.3 Million 

Olivet has a wonderful reputation of being a beautiful and well-maintained environment with a park-like campus. Having a beautiful place for students to learn and live is important for their well-being, and it is a distinct Olivet advantage. We want to continue a legacy of providing a campus culture where students can thrive in inside and outside environments. Several of these spaces where students meet and community is forged need significant repair and refurbishing, including The Quad, Red Square and Academic Study Commons.

Expanding Olivet’s Influence

Recruitment ($12.5 M)

The number of high school students in the United States is in serious decline.

Colleges and universities across the country are struggling to make enrollment goals and meet revenue targets. In the Midwest, regionalized birth rate decreases are producing an average of 20% drop in enrollments. Strategic, effective enrollment strategies are more important now than ever for long-term viability.

Our Response

Our marketing and recruiting strategies are working. We plan to invest more in niches to seek specific traits in student prospects, not “fish” by just dangling a message out there and hoping somebody bites. For example, the 23 freshman who attended last year from the Pacific Rim will be followed by 50 more coming this fall!

Success Story

Daneli Hentschel and ONU’s Aspira initiative connects, informs and empowers prospective Hispanic students and their families with the capability of higher education. In the first year of Aspira, Olivet’s team has visited new schools and churches, translated materials into Spanish, broken down financial barriers, and shifted our thinking so we can proactively serve this particular population.


5-Year Funding Goal: $125,000

The Pacific Rim initiative targets students in the region of Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and American Samoa. While it has achieved success, it is still in its infancy. Many of these students qualify for large regional scholarships that increase the revenue ONU receives per student. We anticipate continuing growth through this initiative as we expand further into this world area.


5-Year Funding Goal: $875,000

This initiative targets the Spanish-speaking community. This is the fastest growing demographic of college-bound students. These young men and women thrive within the Olivet ethos. Our campus is strategically located on the doorstep of Chicago to offer them a close to home, value added college experience. Under the direction of our Aspira program lead, Jorge Bonilla, we believe this initiative offers a cohesive mission fit and unlimited potential for revenue and impact.


5-Year Funding Goal: $150,000 

Our focus is on exceptional students with an interest in ROTC who would likely qualify for national ROTC scholarships that cover full tuition for the recipients for three or four years. This targeted recruitment effort is currently focused on junior ROTC programs in Chicago plus high school students whose parents serve in the military and live on U.S. military bases throughout the U.S. and Europe. Many in this student pool also have access to military benefits to help pay for college. Our award-winning ROTC program makes this a natural opportunity, as many students within this population group have strong interest in ROTC officer training.


5-Year Funding Goal: $5 Million

An Olivet value is innovation with mission alignment. We seek to respond quickly to needs and opportunities in the marketplace through creative works. Our Strategic Enrollment Plan is identifying our response to shifting market opportunities. As resources are available, we can envision launching several new graduate programs in response to trends and market demands.


5-Year Funding Goal: $526,000

The Early Scholars Program is an affordability strategy making it possible for high school students to receive dual high school and college course work credit prior to high school graduation. Olivet is working with public and private schools, as well as a growing homeschooling market. This is an opportunity for students to save money with a discounted tuition rate by taking college classes now. Early Scholar courses are offered on campus or online with high school students enrolled in college courses with Olivet undergraduate students.