Ten years ago, Chris Spinella paid it forward, establishing an endowed scholarship to benefit future leaders, just as others did for him on his educational journey as a member of the Leadership Scholarship Program (LSP). Since then, seven students have received his scholarship, allowing them to focus more on activities and academics than on part-time jobs. Spinella hopes that his example of philanthropy will encourage other scholarship recipients to do the same as they find success, the beginning of a perpetual cycle of giving.
“When I was a leadership scholar, thanking those who made my education possible, I remember thinking at some point I wanted to be on the other side of the table,” says Spinella, now cofounder and CEO of Apriva, a wireless solutions provider in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I feel like now I’m giving back to ASU what they granted me.”
Spinella’s leadership scholarship provides high-achieving high school students with four-year funding and a supportive environment of other leadership scholars. He decided to leave the selection criteria open, so that ASU could make the best decision. “They [ASU] are in a better position to select someone,” says Spinella. “And I want the scholarship to go to the best candidate. However, high academic performance is required.”
Spinella received his bachelor’s degree in management with honors from ASU’s College of Business (now the W. P. Carey School of Business) in 1983. He credits his undergraduate experience, including his diverse extracurricular activities, with his admission to Harvard Business School, where he received his M.B.A. in 1990. “Most everyone who applies is an honors student,” notes Spinella. “But I think my unique experiences at ASU really separated me from the pack during the selection process.” While at ASU, Spinella was elected the Associated Students of ASU’s activities vice president, was president of his fraternity, and was selected homecoming king, as well as ASU’s Man of the Year.
Since moving back to the Valley in 1996, Spinella has been involved in several aspects of campus life, including attending ASU sporting events with his family and serving on the ASU Alumni Association Board of Directors, of which he is now chair-elect. He remains close with fellow LSP alumni, as well as current scholars, offering his insight at career days or other events. “These students become very successful citizens,” Spinella adds. “My first scholar was the Founder of Operation K.I.D. and won a nationally recognized award by USA Today. He later went on to graduate from Georgetown University’s Law School.”