$1.6M gift to WVU football expands educational opportunities via 5th Quarter Program

Steven Spielberg

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University football’s 5th Quarter Program is expanding to create unique educational opportunities for select student-athletes thanks to a nearly $1.6 million gift from WVU alumni John and Elaine Chambers.

The couple’s latest contribution through the Chambers Family Foundation complements previous philanthropic leadership endeavors designed to advance WVU and the Mountain State through innovative programs, experiential learning, entrepreneurship and more.

“We are excited to partner with WVU’s football program to reimagine how we educate Mountaineer student-athletes,” John and Elaine Chambers said. “We know our student-athletes have the drive and work ethic it takes to succeed. By empowering them with comprehensive, next-generation skills and experience, we can ensure they are prepared to excel in a rapidly changing global workplace. Their professional victories will also help build West Virginia’s growing reputation as a Startup State that cultivates innovation and produces future leaders.”

Launched in 2020 by Head Coach Neal Brown, the 5th Quarter Program aims to serve and develop total Mountaineers by preparing student-athletes for success on the playing field as well as life beyond graduation. The program’s whole-person approach focuses on five pillars: character development, leadership development, real life, career development and social responsibility.

The couple’s gift will establish Chambers Elite Climbers, a supplemental two-year program that provides additional personal and professional growth opportunities to student-athletes chosen through a competitive application process. Each cohort will dive deeper into key areas of interest – entrepreneurship and innovation, technology, financial education, and communications – through a variety of educational resources, complete a study-abroad experience, and select a West Virginia-focused humanitarian venture to pursue each year.

Participants will also benefit from expert educational speakers, internships, career preparation resources, cultural field trips, designated work/meeting space and staff support. 

“The 5th Quarter Program is a vital part of the overall success of our football program,” Brown said. “It helps us educate and prepare our players to be the total student-athlete and give them important understanding of life after football. Chambers Elite Climbers will provide an enhanced level of development across all five pillars of the 5th Quarter Program. I want to thank John and Elaine Chambers for their generous support.”

The Chambers gift will help WVU cultivate one of the premier student-athlete development programs in college football. With the added incentive of Chambers Elite Climbers, the 5th Quarter Program offers the potential to attract the nation’s top recruits by ensuring they can achieve their professional goals post-graduation.

“John and Elaine Chambers have made a significant donation to our 5th Quarter Program, and I want to thank them for their support and helping us take it to a higher level,” Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “It’s already highly successful but adding the Chambers Elite Climbers supplemental two-year program gives our football student-athletes a unique opportunity to excel in the game of life. The benefits from this supplemental program will be impactful, and I appreciate John’s and Elaine’s willingness to make it happen.”

John Chambers is the former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems and current founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, a venture capital firm that strives to change the world through digitization and entrepreneurship. A Charleston native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and law degree from WVU – in 1971 and 1974, respectively. He earned an honorary doctorate as WVU’s commencement speaker in 2001.

Elaine Chambers graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology in 1972. A passionate supporter of education and health initiatives, she currently serves as vice chair of the CDC Foundation.

The couple has generously supported many University programs and units. The John Chambers College of Business and Economics is named in honor of John’s 2018 commitment to provide financial and intellectual resources to his alma mater. In late 2020, they contributed $1 million via their Chambers Family Foundation to establish a fellowship program at the College that benefits students from underrepresented groups.

The Chambers gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.



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