For ASU alums Jerry and Ruth Bell, service comes above self
Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month at W. P. Carey
Ever since Jerry Bell was a child, he was instilled with the value of philanthropy.
“I could tell you many stories of when I was growing up, my mother asking me questions like, ‘Jerry, don’t you want to share this?’ or ‘Jerry, do you think they would be happy if you included them?’" Bell said. "No one can tell me that she didn’t mold us with kind hearts and thoughts of sharing."
Throughout his time as a student at Arizona State University, where he played football for four years before going on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for six years, Bell never forgot his mother’s words. And along the way, he met his wife Ruth, also an ASU alum, who shared his passion for giving back.
Recently, the couple established the Jerry and Ruth Bell W. P. Carey Black Student Success Scholarship for any students engaged with the Black Business Student Association or a similar association that supports Black students at ASU.
“Being able to help Black students achieve the opportunity to obtain a college degree is personally very important to me,” Ruth said. “We had friends as undergrads who dropped out because they were unable to meet the financial commitments of tuition, room and board.”
Jerry has also seen firsthand some of the barriers that limit Black student success. “It must be difficult to overcome being continually minimized,” he said. “Black students can use all the assistance they can get, and they will definitely get as much help from us as we can provide.”
The couple is passionate about education as a conduit for future success, and believes that the investment of a scholarship does not stop maturing at graduation, but continues to build up students and their communities for years.
“Success is watching them grow professionally, start and raise their families, establish themselves within their community and then watching them develop a philanthropic project to give back when the time is right,” Jerry said.
The couple is excited for the opportunity to support Black success at W. P. Carey.
“We tend to focus on service above self and are so impressed with the strides ASU has made in welcoming and supporting Black students,” Ruth said. “To reengage in this way after a great undergraduate experience is really exciting.”
In addition to the new scholarship at W. P. Carey, the Bells support two scholarships at the University of South Florida in Tampa. They are also passionate about elevating the status of women, youth development, health care access, voter registration and the arts.
“To me, philanthropy includes the giving of time, talent, money and other resources, such as service or other tangible items,” Ruth said. She and husband Jerry demonstrate that through volunteer service and nonprofit board memberships in addition to their scholarships.
“Philanthropy is our opportunity to give back all the blessings that we have received,” Jerry said.
And W. P. Carey students will benefit from that ethos for years to come.
To learn more about how you can support W. P. Carey as an alumnus, visit wpcarey.asu.edu/alumni/volunteer-giving.