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  • Writer's pictureBen Finzel

Seven Years of Good Luck

Today, we are celebrating our seventh anniversary in business. On this day in 2015, I hit “publish” on our website and “send” on an email announcing the debut of RENEWPR, a new public relations firm in Washington, D.C. focused on “restoring common sense to communications.”

So what have the last seven years been like for us? The late, great jazz musician Joe Sample inspired this post with this composition “Seven Years of Good Luck” from his 1989 album Spellbound. We’ve worked really hard over the last seven years (and maybe we made some of our own luck, too). And yes, it hasn’t all been great (particularly after the 2016 election and then COVID, the murder of George Floyd and the January 6th insurrection). But we’re doing good work (and that includes all of us on the RENEWPR Team) with good clients and good friends. I’m really grateful.

And as we celebrate our seventh anniversary, I’ll add one more “good” to the list: good deeds. For the past few anniversaries, we’ve donated pro bono time to organizations serving diverse communities and provided financial assistance to organizations selected by our amazing Team. Now, I’m pleased and proud to announce that we are establishing the RENEWPR LGBTQIA Endowed Scholarship at the Texas Tech Alumni Association for LGBTQIA students at Texas Tech University (my alma mater). It will provide an annual scholarship for an LGBTQIA student in the college of Arts and Sciences or any LGBTQIA student in a college at Texas Tech who plans to study abroad. The first scholarship will be awarded this fall.

Now, I’m pleased and proud to announce that we are establishing the RENEWPR LGBTQIA Endowed Scholarship at the Texas Tech Alumni Association for LGBTQIA students at Texas Tech University (my alma mater).

Launching this scholarship is about more than giving back – although that is part of the motivation – it’s also about recognizing the life experience and insight that I gained as a student at Texas Tech University more than 30 years ago. And it’s about helping the next generation of LGBTQIA students to have the opportunities I did to study both at home and abroad. College is hard enough: imagine being an LGBTQIA kid with limited financial means. And then imagine being an LGBTQIA kid who feels like a fish out of water because they are in an unknown environment that is nothing like the one they came from. Yep, that was me.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my experience as a student at Texas Tech University. And I’m very proud of the Bachelor of Arts degree I earned in 1989 (yes, the same year that Spellbound was released). But it wasn’t always easy. And I was only able to attend Texas Tech and study abroad (which I did for a semester in Salzburg, Austria) because of the generosity of my grandparents who helped fund my education and because Texas Tech offered a study abroad scholarship (which I was the first person to be awarded it to).

RENEWPR is focused on energy, environment and equity. Increasingly, those topics are intertwined as companies, advocates and organizations realize that addressing challenges like climate change, clean air and public lands protection won’t be successful without realizing that we are all affected by these changes and we all need to be part of the conversation about addressing them. We take the approach that collaboration is the key to achieving lasting results and we focus our work in the “middle”, where people from different backgrounds can find common ground on policy and practice and work together to effect positive change.

That approach isn’t accidental. It has its roots in my own lived experience as a DC native who grew up in the city and then moved to Houston for high school (go Bellaire Cardinals!) and to Lubbock, Texas, for college. These experiences gave me a practical sense about how to work with others from differing backgrounds and how to find the common ground necessary to solve problems.

Now that I’m able to give back – thanks in no small part to my education at Texas Tech University and the insight I gained from living and studying in a place unlike any I had lived in before – that’s exactly what I’m going to do. This scholarship will start small - $500 this year – but I hope to expand it to $1000 in the years ahead and I’ll be looking for other ways to help ensure that the next generation of LGBTQIA students has additional resources to foster a well-rounded education that will open up opportunities to them to go out and change the world.

To learn more about the RENEWPR LGBTQIA Endowed Scholarship, visit the Texas Tech Alumni Association scholarship website. #IAmARedRaider and I am proud to have this opportunity to lift up and do some good – now more than ever.

[The photo below is me in 1989 during my study abroad semester. It was taken in Belgium during a weekend trip.]



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