Pay It Forward


The Program:

The “Pay It Forward” scholarship program provides scholarships to a number of UNCA students each year who meet the following criteria. First, they must be a Junior or Senior. Second, they must be working full or part time. Third, they must have a financial need. Finally, they must maintain a 3.0 GPA continuously.  Once they have qualified for one the of the “Pay It Forward” scholarships, we will continue to help pay for their education as long as they work and maintain at least a 3.0.

This program has grown from very humble beginnings to a year round program that has developed a life of its own. Today, each of the scholarship recipients get together regularly to foster more giving in the form of building house’s for Habitat for Humanity; donating time to the Special Olympics; and developing other outside “Pay It Forward” projects. In addition, we try to support and promote each of the individual projects our scholarship recipients are involved in. 

Over the past year, we have developed a new process for selecting our future scholarship recipients, through the use of a unique advisory board. The current “Pay It Forward” board is made up of current and past scholarship recipients, who meet each spring and fall to select the new winners. By involving our past scholarship recipients in the selection of future scholarship recipients, we believe this advisory program promotes our “Pay It Forward” message in a tangible way.

When you meet any of the young adults involved in this “Pay It Forward” program, you can’t help but be incredibly impressed by their drive to give back to their communities; their maturity level; and their humble spirit. Based on my observation of these young adults, I believe our future is in good hands!

Why Scholarships? by Dr. Joe Kiely

This program was started in memory of my father who was a great teacher – and – an even bigger “giver” to our community. At an early age he instilled the importance of giving back to our community by getting involved. When I was younger, my father was the mayor of our city. He was known for his efforts regarding charity and affordable housing for the elderly and the poor. As we aged, my father was one of the main forces behind the growth of our local Salvation Army. Through our family’s relationship with the Salvation Army, we learned the importance of giving back during each of the holidays as we fed and clothed families on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas – before we came home for our own meal and presents.  As we aged through our teens, we housed international exchange students through the Rotary Club, fed families through the Lions Club and gardened (think weeding!) with the elderly at senior homes. We were taught to be humble, unselfish and generous with our time. If I can be half the man my father was, I will have lived a great life. He is my hero and my motivation for starting this scholarship program.

More Information:

For more information regarding UNCA scholarships and giving, you can contact Jim Brewer or Bill Massey at 828-251-6730. Or, you can click on the direct link:

  • Corporate Headquarters

    P.O. Box 756
    Oak Ridge, NC 27310
    Phone: 252-439-1888

  • Mountain Branch

    4 Highland Place
    Asheville, NC 28804
    Phone: 828-350-8681

  • Greenville Branch

    901 Forest Hill Circle
    Greenville, NC 27858

  • Coastal Branch

    1207 Earnley Cove
    Leland, NC 28451
    Phone: 910-579-8075

  • New York Branch

    8305 Decoy Run
    Manlius, NY 13104