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Willis Bright Invests in the Future of Social Work

Willis Bright, MSW '68, recently made a very thoughtful gift to the School to help current master's students. Below, Bright traces the arc of his remarkable career for Ongoing and tells what motivated him to make this special gift.

"I have a lifelong interest in improving the lives of young people," Bright says. "My career at Lilly Endowment enabled me to use my social work knowledge and skills to provide grants and funding to a wide variety of youth development programs. Now a matching gift from the Lilly Endowment has made it possible for me to invest in the future of social work and MSW students at the University of Michigan." Bright's employer of 25 years, the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, provided matching funds for Bright's gift.

Bright knows well the passion for social justice and serving as a catalyst for change. As an MSW student, his concentration was community organization. During his field placement at the Washtenaw County Mental Health Center, Bright helped mobilize the community to help children and youth. He did this in the midst of increased civil rights activism at the University. "The importance of social action and the value of quality social work practice and scholarship all came together in that era and gave great value to community engagement."

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