Women For Madison

Is Philanthropy Supposed to be this Exciting?


SUMMARY: Through Women for Madison’s Amethyst Circle, Adora Williams (JMU ’95) comes full circle herself: from needing financial aid so she could attend and graduate from JMU, to “thinking big” with other JMU women who are emerging as a major philanthropic force in empowering new students to do the same.

In supporting her alma mater, Adora Williams (’95) takes philanthropy seriously. But now, as one of the Women for Madison’s Amethyst Circle, she’s finding philanthropy seriously exciting—because writing the check is just the beginning of something big.

We’re building a million-dollar fund,” Williams says. “Scholarships funded by women. Totaling a million dollars. Every two years. That’s dreaming big and it’s exciting!

Williams, Senior Benefit Manager for the NFL Players Association, has been with Women for Madison since 2017. She discovered the Amethyst Circle while attending the JMU virtual summit this past May. “Right from the start,” she says, “I wanted to be part of it.”

“It” is the Amethyst Circle goal of providing 25 JMU incoming freshmen with a scholarship of $5000 for all four years to graduation.

Empathizing with financial struggles

“Ongoing aid is so important,” Williams observes, recalling her own experience as a freshman hoping to attend JMU. Her widowed mother raised a family that pulled together to make life work. But paying for college wasn’t possible.

Instead, Williams cobbled together financial aid, including scholarships. “Getting funding for your freshman year is almost easy,” she notes. “There are many first-year opportunities. The struggle is to maintain funding and actually graduate from JMU.  And if you don’t graduate, what’s the point of the aid you did get?” 

Now, as an Amethyst Circle member, Williams’ pledge to donate $5,000 over the next two years brings her full circle. “Hearing directly from students about how we’re changing their lives keeps me grounded,” she emphasizes. So do Amethyst Circle women themselves, expanding Williams’ connection to JMU beyond her sorority. 

Coming full circle

From her own journey, Williams can envision a future where students receive not just funding, but inspiration—"not just graduating but staying part of JMU … perhaps as Women for Madison, perhaps even as members of the Amethyst Circle themselves.”  

“Look at what’s happening already,” Williams continues. “We’re emerging as a meaningful financial force at JMU—passionate, purposeful women who are really changing lives. We set such a big goal for Amethyst Circle fundraising. If we meet it, maybe we can dream even bigger, change even more lives! That’s what’s so seriously exciting.”

Giving and Receiving

Will the Amethyst Circle meet its goal? There is still time to pledge your two-year, “think big” donation this year. Donations of any amount to Women for Madison are also appreciated at this midpoint in JMU’s 2021/22 academic year.

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Published: Friday, December 17, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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