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Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Foundation supports Urban Scholars Program

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 19, 2005) -- The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Foundation, administered by Fifth Third Bank, has made a $40,000 commitment to support Ohio University's Urban Scholars Program, which will enhance diversity at the university by providing need-based scholarships for students from urban centers. The Schmidlapp Foundation's grant will support a young woman hailing from the Cincinnati area as an Urban Scholar by providing funds to help cover tuition and fee expenses.

Nearly 10 percent of Ohio University's Athens Campus population of more than 20,000 hails from Hamilton and its contiguous counties - with 955 students from Hamilton County alone. In addition, nearly 6,000 of the university's 148,000 living alumni reside in these counties.

Born in Piqua, Ohio, in 1849, Jacob G. Schmidlapp overcame poverty and personal tragedy to become a successful businessman. He founded the Union Savings Bank in 1876, which merged with Fifth Third Bank in 1919. In 1908, Schmidlapp began a legacy that has grown into one of the largest private foundations in the United States. He had already lost his wife, mother and daughter, Emma, in a train accident when, in 1907, he lost his remaining daughter, Charlotte, in a freak auto accident. Mr. Schmidlapp established the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund to allow other young women to, unlike his daughters, realize their lives' dreams. Today, managed by Fifth Third's investment professionals, the fund has grown to more than $25 million in assets.

"Fifth Third is excited about the opportunity to take part in the new Urban Scholars Program at Ohio University," said Heidi B. Jark, vice president of the Fifth Third Foundation Office. "The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund is the United States' oldest foundation solely dedicated to 'ennoble, to uplift and to strengthen the lives of young women.' We feel this program epitomizes the goals and values this fund was created to promote."

The mission of the Urban Scholars Program is to provide scholarships for students graduating from urban school districts who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. Preliminary goals include recruiting and supporting 10 Urban Scholars who will begin classes in the fall of 2005 and eventually supporting 100 new scholars annually.

"This program is designed to target that tier of students who sometimes get missed as universities compete for the top percentage of members of underrepresented student populations," said Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University. "This approach allows us to focus on some of our diversity challenges in a unique way. By offering scholarships to students from Ohio's inner cities who really want to go to college and want the opportunity to succeed, we renew our commitment to promoting an atmosphere where understanding and accepting cultural differences is a top priority."

"Ohio University is committed to making positive changes for all of our students. The goal of this particular program is to enhance the collegiate experience for our students hailing from urban centers, which will benefit all students by better preparing them to enter a diverse workforce," said Leonard Raley, vice president for University Advancement.

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Media Contacts: Director of Development Communication Jennifer Bowie, (740) 597-2987

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