Foundation News: Fall 2020



A year of challenge and opportunity

Kim HannaDear friends,

Thank you to all who made generous gifts to support students, programs and faculty within the University of Northern Iowa College of Education this past year. You are making a difference and impacting student success through your gifts!

This year has been full of challenges and opportunities, both here at UNI and throughout our world. As we transitioned to online coursework in March, I heard from many alumni who wanted to know how everyone was coping with such drastic and immediate changes. Through all of this, opportunities emerged.  The UNI Foundation fund-raised for the UNI Student Emergency Fund in March and April and raised almost $15,000 for students who needed funds to help with housing, travel costs as students transitioned home to finish the semester, and safety needs. An additional $66,000 for the fund was raised this fall. This support has had an immediate impact on our students.

You have read how UNI and the College of Education made adjustments in 2020, but what didn’t change was the quality education you expect and the personal impact that our faculty have on their students. Our students are successful because of the support they receive in and out of the classroom. 

To give UNI students the highest quality learning environment and ensure a UNI education continues to be affordable, donor support has taken on an even greater significance. I invite you to join us in taking the necessary steps to ensure a UNI education remains accessible and affordable for all. With your investment in scholarships, students can focus on their studies, enjoy all that a university education offers and contribute to our society and economy.

Please consider making a gift to support student scholarship or another area of passion. For more information or to discuss, contact me at 800-782-9522, 319-273-7319, or

Your support, making a difference

Your support counts.  Just ask Chelsea Bolhuis.

Chelsea Bolhuis Early childhood educationIn January, Bolhuis begins her final semester student teaching at the Hudson and Waterloo school districts in Iowa. She is a student whom early childhood education program coordinator and associate professor Mary Donegan-Ritter says “gets it” about a high quality curriculum. 

“She is so good--down to earth, hard working, great with kids,” Donegan-Ritter says. "During her Level 3 placement at Elk Run preschool, she observed that the children were very interested in finding insects on the playground and so she did a long term project on crickets. It was so well done."

Bolhuis was selected to receive the spring 2021 Jean Kelly Early Childhood Award to apply toward her student teaching semester. This $1,200 scholarship, provided each semester, was made possible by a donation to the University of Northern Iowa Foundation by Jim Kelly, a former UNI student teaching coordinator. 

The award honors his late wife Jean, a long-time kindergarten teacher in Cedar Falls who, while earning her master’s degree in early childhood educationChelsea Bolhuis with preschool child at UNI, teamed up with Judith Finkelstein to develop early childhood units which became part of the curricular programs of many kindergarten and pre-K classrooms throughout the state and nation. 

Students do not apply for the award, but are selected by the early childhood faculty based on criteria Jim Kelly established with the faculty’s assistance, focusing on: professionalism, content knowledge, pedagogical skills and communication skills. 

A surprise honor

“I am sincerely honored to have received the Jean Kelly Early Childhood Award. It means a lot to me and my family. It will help lower the cost of tuition for my final semester,” Bolhuis says. “I had no idea I would receive this award. I am truly grateful!” says the Cedar Falls native. 

“I have been in contact with Jean’s husband, Dr. Jim Kelly. He expressed to me how important early childhood education was to his wife and the values she held,” Bolhuis says. “I am very thankful to Dr. Kelly and the early childhood faculty for choosing me for this award based upon my values and passion that I have for early childhood education.”

Adds Jim Kelly: “The award has been given to 11 students now and stands ready to serve many in the future.” 

For more information on how you can support students at the UNI College of Education, please connect with Kim Hanna, director of development, at or 319-273-7319. 

NOTE: An up-to-date listing of donors will appear in the next issue of Premier.