This page contains information on the Lyon's Legacy Fund (formerly known as the Jolene Fund) established by the MHC Lesbian Alumnae Network, and continued by Mount Holyoke Lyon's Pride.

News from the Lyon's Legacy Fund Coordinator

May 10, 2020:

The fund was used by the Dean of the College to support a student in need. See the student's statement in the Thank You section below.

July 31, 2012:

The fund was used by the Dean of the College to support a student in need. See the student's statement in the Thank You section below.

September 10, 2009:

We've raised over $100,000 for the Lyon's Legacy Fund! WOW!

Nov 28, 2008:

'Tis the season for holiday cards! Please buy some to support the Lyon's Legacy Fund. Click for details.

February 22, 2008:

Some new vintage books for sale for the Lyon's Legacy Fund! Read all about it here:

Updated September 10, 2009 by Donna Albino

The Statement of Purpose

In 2015, we changed the name of the fund. In 2011, we expanded our goals and adopted a new statement of purpose with support of the Lyon's Pride membership. Our current statement of purpose, which reflects both changes: "This is a revised statement of purpose for the Lyon's Legacy Loan Fund that was established by the Mount Holyoke College Lesbian Alumnae Network that was succeeded by Mount Holyoke Lyon's Pride. The Lyon's Legacy Loan Fund exists to provide financial assistance in the form of loans to students, including incoming students, at Mount Holyoke College who have lost support from their families for coming out as lesbians or bisexuals or transgender or for other similar circumstances involving sexual orientation or gender identity. The administration of the Lyon's Legacy Loan Fund will be handled by the Dean of the College."

In 2002, the MHC Lesbian Alumnae Network (MHCLAN) established the Jolene Fund with this statement of purpose: "The Mount Holyoke College Lesbian Alumnae Network is establishing the Jolene Loan Fund to provide financial assistance in the form of loans to women students at Mt. Holyoke College who have lost support from their families for coming out as lesbians or bisexuals or for other similar circumstances involving sexual orientation. The administration of the Jolene Loan Fund will be handled by the Dean of the College." Mount Holyoke Lyon's Pride, the successor to the MHCLAN, is continuing this work.

The loans are interest-free loans. We chose to make loans rather than grants because it is our understanding that students would have to pay taxes on grant income, but would not have to pay taxes on loan income. We thought that would make our money go farther with the student who needed it.


The MHCLAN agreed to raise $25,000 to endow the fund by January 2004.

Giving to the Fund

Send your gift with the note designating that the gift is for the Lyon's Legacy (Jolene) Fund to Development Office, 50 College St, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075. This means the gift will be noted on your file record. The Development Office and any classmates who work on fund raising may have access to an individual's file record.

Please make checks payable to "Mount Holyoke College".

To give online with a credit card, please go to:

Make sure to state the donation is for the Lyon's Legacy/Jolene Fund in the comment area of the donation form, or else it will get credited to the Annual Fund by default. The drop-down menu of suggested uses does not include our fund, so you have to choose something that is not accurate, unfortunately. You MUST leave a comment in the donation form indicating how you want your donation to be credited in order for them to handle your donation correctly.

All donations are fully tax deductible.

Please do NOT send any money to Lyon's Pride for the Fund via PayPal.

Anonymous Gifts to the Fund

If you'd like to make an anonymous gift to the fund, send it to Development Office, 50 College St, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075, and include a letter designating the gift for the Lyon's Legacy/Jolene Fund and make it clear that you wish this to be anonymous, and not part of your file. They will take care of it. This is nothing unusual for the college to handle.

Endowment Status

As of February 24, 2021:
Current market value of the fund: $172,408
Number of loans made: 7
Amount loaned: $21,649
Amount repaid so far: $8,886
Available for loans: $79,943

We thank everyone who has donated to this Fund. Endowment is complete, however a greater endowment allows us to give more meaningful loans.

Suggested Gift: $150

Thank-You Notes from Fund Loan Recipients:

I never knew this would happen to me my senior year. I suffered a lot of emotional pain and continue to do so every now and then because of my situation. Ever since my mom disowned my sibling and me in the summer of '06 because of sexuality and lifestyle, she spared her shame and she toiled with my education. My mom no longer wanted to pay for me. I was not sure I would make it. I honestly cried every day and night. Financial policies demanded so much from me and I could not bear leaving Mt. Holyoke and not graduating. Where would I go? What would I do? I need a degree to survive. I'm in this alone. A little spirit, however, passes through Mt. Holyoke and reminds me that there is hope. Jolene is letting me graduate and offering me that Mt. Holyoke education she always wanted. I truly feel like Jolene's arm has extended to help me and others in similar situations. I really hope that people one day learn that even in the year 2007, a student from even the finest institutions may have their world ripped apart and no one would know. It is not only about socioeconomic differences, but the ways in which ignorance, fear, and hate still affects families and tears families apart.

I wish that no more Mt. Holyoke students suffer from hate or become disowned. With that said, I give a warm, friendly THANKS to Lyon's Pride. I would not have made it without a little help from the Jolene Fund.

With love, J '07


I picked up my check from the Jolene Fund yesterday, and I don't really know who to show my appreciation. I cannot begin to thank you for the loan, and also for the confidentiality and the compassion, which was shown to me when I sought it out. I hope that one day in the future, when the tables are turned, I can help someone else just like you helped me!

A grateful member of the Class of 2007

I wish I could describe with words how much it means to me to have been approved for the Jolene Fund. I never thought that someone would care for me and push for my cause as much as Lyon's Pride has, and I will forever be grateful for everything that you have done for me.  Thank you to Dean Banks for believing in me and for bringing back my fight to stay strong. Thank you to the Jolene Fund committee for giving me the opportunity to be able to continue my education at Mount Holyoke when I thought I no longer could. Thank you all a thousand times. 

A, class of 2013

Receiving this loan has been the greatest relief in the world. I felt so hopeless - the world around me was falling apart because of coronavirus and I was dealing with my own personal worry about where I would go. I'm so appreciative to every alum who donated to this fund. I feel so connected and grateful to all of you. This type of community aid exemplifies why I'm so happy to be at Mount Holyoke and so happy to be a lesbian - when I needed help my community was there for me. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this fund. I'm confident that when I graduate and have a job I will as well.

M '21

History and General Information

by Nic Luppino '76

In the early 1990s, a Mount Holyoke student approached the MHCLAN for financial assistance. Her family was refusing to support her or her quest for an education at Mount Holyoke after discovering she was romantically involved with another woman. Although the MHCLAN was unable to assist her and she ultimately could not stay at Mount Holyoke, that incident became a catalyst.

Over the years that followed, there were several attempts by various groups of MHCLAN members, always assisted by Donna Albino, who tried to create a response to this situation. During that period of time, various MHCLAN members became aware of other students facing the same circumstances. Those early attempts were to provide some useful information for the final creation of the Fund.

In September of 2000, Nic Luppino brought this idea back to life and created a project to establish this Fund. The online MHCLAN community participated in many lively discussions. A naming committee took suggestions and polled the online membership for a decision. The name, The Jolene Fund, was selected to honor the catalyst for this effort.

Nic and Donna spent a lot of effort negotiating with Charlie Haight, the VP of Development, who represented the college. In the end, a mutually agreeable proposal was presented to the online MHCLAN members for a vote. The other option presented was to create a 501(c)(3) to administer the Fund. In excess of 80% of the members who participated in an online discussion forum and voted choose to go with the college's offer of dean's discretionary fund to administer the Jolene Fund.

In 2000, while Donna and Nic were working on setting up the Fund, they tried to find and contact Jolene. Contact was not made until after the online group had voted on the name. Jolene informed Donna and Nic that he was now known as Joel. Joel stated that while he would have preferred not to have the fund named in honor of his former name, that he was happy that some good had come out of his ordeal.

In 2015, the student members of Lyon's Pride asked if we would consider changing the name of the fund since Joel was uncomfortable with the name. We solicited suggested names from our members and held an online vote, including an option to keep the current name. The name Lyon's Legacy won the vote.

The Lyon's Legacy Fund Coordinator is Donna Albino '83

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