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Spiders FLI 2024
Students celebrated their accomplishments at the inaugural Spiders FLI awards ceremony in April.

Enriching the UR Experience for all Spiders

May 20, 2024

Ellwein family’s generosity creates opportunities for first-generation, limited-income students

The Ellwein family at UR Commencement 2024
It didn’t take long for Charles and Nel Ellwein, P’24, to fall in love with the University of Richmond through the experience of their daughter, Alexa, ’24.
“She had a great first year, even though she started during COVID-19,” Nel said. “While many other universities struggled, we felt that UR handled the pandemic well and were so impressed with the communications we received as parents. So, we became really excited about the University and began to learn how we could best offer support.”
In 2022, the couple made a generous gift to establish the Ellwein Family Fund, which provides long-term support for programs and activities that further student well-being and belonging, specifically for first-generation and/or limited-income students.
“We recognize that many UR students face real financial barriers and other obstacles when coming to college,” Nel said. “We want these students to feel comfortable and supported so they have just as great of an experience as Alexa had.”
The Ellwein Family Fund currently provides vital support to Richmond’s Spiders FLI program. Managed through the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion (SCEI), Spiders FLI offers programming for first-generation and/or limited-income students such as networking opportunities, mentorship, leadership experiences, and community-building events. The goal is to help students form meaningful connections and access resources that will allow them to succeed during their time on campus and after they graduate.
Spiders FLI alumnus Sam Ghali, ’24, said the program gave him the confidence to pursue opportunities that enhanced his Richmond experience, such as a prestigious internship in mental health research at the University of Oxford. At the inaugural Spiders FLI awards ceremony in April, Ghali received the Spiders FLI Impact Award, recognizing a student who has made a meaningful impact within and beyond the program.
“My most significant accomplishment [at UR] was finding a family like no other in the Spiders FLI program,” he said. “At its core, FLI is about mutual affirmation. The FLI community is [one of] the hardest working on campus. Many of us have accomplished remarkable things and continue to do so. We often stumble and anxiety floods in, but there's always a family to lift us up again.”
SCEI’s associate director Lisa Miles, who will retire in June after 17 years at UR, is grateful to supporters like the Ellweins for helping the program grow in breadth and depth.
“We can offer more students deep engagement opportunities and take more students off-campus to engage them with our beautiful surroundings,” she said. “Students frequently talk about how this program is foundational to their experience at UR. Without the help of donors like the Ellweins, we simply could not offer all these opportunities to our students.”
The Ellweins are proud members of the President’s Parent Leadership Council. Learn more about the PPLC by contacting Nancy Stansbery, director of parent giving, at