Fresno State students facing a financial hardship on the road to academic success will soon be able to apply for more grants and scholarships thanks to two gifts totaling $5.5 million from the Perenchio Foundation, which was established through the estate of an entertainment executive who has long supported the University.

The Perenchio Foundation, established to direct the philanthropic wishes of Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, who died in 2017, donated $500,000 to the Good Samaritan Fund to immediately help students in need during the 2020-21 academic year. The foundation also donated $5 million to create the Perenchio Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to support Fresno State students from all backgrounds and majors, including “Dreamers,” immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. In building this endowment, the foundation’s goal is to have the most positive impact possible through the distribution of scholarships made available for students in perpetuity.

“By helping to remove barriers to achieving a college degree, the Perenchio Foundation is profoundly transforming the lives of current and future students, our next generation of leaders, thereby making a lasting gift to the hometown that gave Mr. Perenchio his start in life,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “As student enrollment grows, we are extremely grateful for this investment in our University.”

The Good Samaritan Fund is a student resource — established through generous contributions from the community and private donors — for students facing unexpected financial roadblocks to academic progress and personal well-being. Fallout from the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the need.

The Perenchio scholarships will first be awarded in the 2021-22 academic year to freshmen and sophomores to encourage retention, and juniors and seniors to increase degree completion.

These scholarships will be open to all students who need a financial boost, with preference given to full-time students.

Perenchio, whose grandparents emigrated from Italy, was born in Fresno. His family owned the Fresno Grape Exchange and the Crestview Winery. He attended local schools but ended up in Los Angeles where he graduated from high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA before joining the United States Air Force and becoming a jet-fighter pilot. Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Perenchio established his career in the entertainment and communications industries.

In 2011, Perenchio was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Fresno State’s centennial commencement recognizing his contributions in entertainment and communications, and his commitment to education and philanthropy.

After accepting the degree, Perenchio addressed the graduates and said that as a child in Fresno, he could never have imagined the career he would have. He encouraged the graduates to dream big and said success could be theirs as it was his with “lots of hard work, perseverance, mentoring, faith, ambition and a good dose of luck.”