Honorary Grand Marshal

Scott Shirley - 2017 Homecoming Honorary Grand Marshal

Introducing Homecoming 2017’s Honorary Grand Marshal and face of Penn State, Scott Shirley! Scott E. Shirley is Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes and CEO of Pledge It. Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit inspiring the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. Shirley established the organization while on the Penn State football team and started the inaugural “Lift For Life” event in 2003. In 2015, the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes surpassed $1 million raised during the annual “Lift For Life.”  

Today, Uplifting Athletes has college chapters across the country. Each chapter is run by current student-athletes, providing them with practical job skills while learning how to leverage their popularity to make a positive and lasting impact. Uplifting Athletes has had an estimated economic impact of more than $400 million on the rare disease community.

In 2014, the desire to incorporate sports with philanthropy drove Shirley to create Pledge It, an innovative performance-based fundraising application. Through this website, athletes from all levels of sport can engage their fans to support their needs or a charitable cause. Under Shirley’s leadership, Pledge It has worked with hundreds of the nations top teams and professional athletes. Penn State alumnus Devon Still’s “Sack Cancer” campaign was featured on ESPN, the Today Show, Sports Illustrated, and many more. Through partnerships with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Cancer Society & CBS Sports Interactive, Pledge It has created two national programs (touchdownsagainstcancer.com and 3pointchallenge.org) to empower high school and college teams in the fight against cancer.

Prior to starting Uplifting Athletes and Pledge It, Shirley served as a project engineer for Clark Construction Group, LLC. Shirley received his B.S. & M.Eng. in Civil Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University where he was recognized as the top student in his class with a focus in construction management. He went on to become an Executive Scholar in Nonprofit Management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and currently serves on numerous volunteer boards.  

Shirley lives in Harrisburg, Pa; with his wife Stephanie ’09, and their sons, Holden and Bennis.  Homecoming is so excited to welcome Scott Shirley back to Penn State as our 2017 Honorary Grand Marshal!