Larry BohnLarry Bohn

$1M gift endows fund by UMass grad

Arlington entrepreneur Larry Bohn has established an endowed fund with a $1 million gift, plus $500,000 in incentives from the state, which will provide scholarship support to the children of veterans.

The Abraham Bohn Children of Veterans Scholarship endowment fund will support undergraduates who are children of deceased or disabled veterans as they work toward their degree at UMass Amherst.

“I was able to go to UMass and develop a career because of the provisions of the veterans benefits,” said Bohn, a UMass alumnus who graduated in 1974. “When I went to UMass, I think it cost like $1,500 for the whole year. And so the veterans benefits completely paid for everything, including living expenses. So I was able to go and really not have to worry about paying my bills. Today, you can't do that. It just doesn't pay enough.”

Dad shot down

The fund is named after Larry’s father, Abraham, a World War II airman who was shot down and spent 18 months in a Romanian prisoner-of-war camp. He returned to the United States with many health problems and died when Larry was 17. After Abraham’s death, Larry and his sister Rhonda Bohn, class of 1982, were able to attend UMass, but only because they received substantial support under the postwar GI Bill. Now, they want to give other children of veterans the same opportunity.

“I just wanted to give back something in my dad's honor for kids in similar situations that have strong needs, have come from homes where people have sacrificed for the country,” Larry Bohn in a Nov. 11 news release. “And where kids need a chance. Someone gave me the chance, and I want to make sure that other people have that chance.”

Larry grew up in Milton. He earned his BFA in English, magna cum laude, in the college of Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass Amherst. He now works as a managing director at General Catalyst Partners, a venture-capital firm.

“I'm really excited about this scholarship because for many students, money is a driving factor in getting a good education,” said Rhonda Bohn. “This is especially true of kids who were like me — those who lost a parent or have a parent who is a veteran and maybe can't work, or are able to work but still have financial barriers. Veterans like my dad devoted their life to our country, and this scholarship is a token of appreciation on our part. We want to help these young adults to move forward in the same way that my brother and I were able to.”

Massachusetts is home to more than 300,000 former members of the U.S. armed forces, and the number of veterans’ children who want to attend college — but cannot afford to — is growing. Children of veterans who have died or are disabled face particularly difficult challenges in affording higher education.

“We are tremendously grateful to Larry for his investment in UMass Amherst’s commitment to accessibility. These scholarships will truly change lives now and for generations to come,” said Mari Castañeda, dean of Commonwealth Honors College, which will administer the fund.

“My hope is that students who receive this scholarship take a path similar to my brother and I, where you have an opportunity and you take that opportunity and you run with it,” said Rhonda. “I hope the funds are used to help these students achieve their academic goals and potentially their career moving forward without the worry of funding.”

Larry Bohn said, “The great thing about UMass is that it's the great democracy. It's part of the land-grant universities. What's made this country is a great university system and the opportunity for people of very limited means to get a great college education.”

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This news announcement was published Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.