ALTOONA, Pa. — Sheetz Inc. executive Steve Sheetz and his wife Nancy, longtime donors of Penn State Altoona, have made a new gift to the university totaling $2.7 million.
Their latest contribution will create the first fund at Penn State Altoona for students who face financial emergencies, and establish an endowment targeted to Ivyside Eats, a program that addresses food insecurity among students. The gift will also continue the couple’s support of the Sheetz Fellows Program, which they helped launch in 2011.
Penn State alumnus Steve, and Nancy, grew up in Altoona and have a celebrated business in the region. Sheetz is family council chairman of Altoona-based Sheetz Inc., one of the nation's largest family-owned and -operated convenience store chains. Sheetz Inc. operates 620 c-stores throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.
“Through their businesses, their philanthropy and their service, Steve and Nancy have modeled what it means to be true community leaders,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Their example and their support are helping Penn State Altoona students to follow in their footsteps. These new commitments come at a moment when so many Penn Staters and others are facing profound personal and financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the gift from Steve and Nancy will be essential in helping the Penn State Altoona community to weather the present moment and look toward an even brighter future.”
As part of their new gift to the university, $1.7 million will go toward funding the Sheetz Fellows Program, a signature initiative of Penn State Altoona’s Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, located in downtown Altoona and created through a 2010 gift from Steve and Nancy.
The program supports research, study abroad and internship opportunities for Sheetz Fellows to enhance their academic and professional experience. Sheetz Fellows are also expected to engage in community service, seminars, workshops, professional development activities, and special mentoring and advising to help them achieve their full potential as leaders.
The remaining $1 million will be split between two endowments for students who face critical and urgent needs. The emergency assistance fund will help undergraduate students navigate financial crises that can delay or derail degree progress, while the fund for Ivyside Eats will help the campus meet the growing food-insecurity crisis among students, especially those impacted by the pandemic.
Steve and Nancy, who were named the university’s Philanthropists of the Year in 2010, will be inducted this spring into the Elm Circle of the Mount Nittany Society, Penn State’s highest level of recognition for its donors. Their philanthropy to the university now totals nearly $15 million.
“Nan and I are grateful for all that this region and Penn State have done to support our success, and we are glad to help today’s and tomorrow’s students achieve their own ambitions and build careers, businesses and lives in the Altoona area,” said Steve Sheetz. “No Penn State Altoona student should go hungry or face financial hardship alone, and every Penn State Altoona student should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential for leadership. We all benefit when young people in our region earn their degrees and find their own ways to give back.”