By Sarah Satterwhite
Support for scholarships was a hallmark of ASCEND: The Campaign for the University of Denver. During the eight-year campaign, the University’s supporters established nearly 600 new scholarships and broadened the University’s ability to recruit the brightest students regardless of socioeconomic background.
One significant factor in many of these gifts was a scholarship matching program established in 2010. Fueled by institutional funding, the program encouraged alumni and friends of the University to invest in the student experience by giving to scholarships.
Gifts that met certain criteria – to either new or existing scholarship funds – were matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact of the gift. More than 550 donors took advantage of the opportunity to invest in the University during the matching program because it enabled them to make a much greater difference in the lives of students.
The first phase of the matching program, initiated in 2010 with $35 million in institutional funds, was met with unprecedented enthusiasm. Through the generosity of parents, alumni, and donors, by Fall 2012 those matching funds had been exhausted. Recognizing the program’s ability to provide momentum for scholarship gifts, the University invested additional funding in early 2013. By the time ASCEND closed in June 2014, donors’ generosity along with the matching funds provided more than $100 million in new scholarship support to the students of DU.
A notable example of the scholarship matching program’s impact is the Taylor Scholarship, established by alumni Andy and Barbara Taylor. Matching funds doubled the impact of the Taylors’ generous ASCEND gift for the Taylor Scholarship, which fosters diversity among undergraduate students attending Daniels College of Business. Since its establishment, the Taylor Scholarship has been awarded to 104 students.
The program also offered a unique opportunity to donors who invested in scholarships through their estate plans: the chance to see the impact of the gift during their lifetime. While the gifts will be realized at a future date, the matching funds enable such scholarships to start helping students right away.
The effects of the program will positively affect the University’s ongoing financial health. As the University of Denver Strategic Issues Panel outlined in its report, the University’s relatively modest endowment means that DU is limited in its ability to offer endowment-funded scholarships. The tuition discount is thus the means of competing with other universities for outstanding students, a practice that lowers the University’s net income and has negative financial implications in the long term.
Through the scholarship matching program, the University inspired donors to double the impact of their gifts while investing in the endowment to set a stronger course for the future. The role of scholarships will be increasingly important in the coming decades because of a heightened challenge of affordability. A broader student demographic will bring stronger students to the University and improve the overall academic picture. Building up the scholarship endowment has prepared the University for this challenge, enabling it to better demonstrate its commitment to diversity and opportunity by offering more scholarships to remarkable students of all backgrounds.
“The scholarship matching program provided an opportunity for the University’s alumni and friends to invest in scholarships in a new way,” said Gregg Kvistad, provost. “By dramatically increasing students’ ability to pursue their academic goals with less financial worry, those individuals’ generosity will have lasting effects on the University, our students, and our future alumni.”
If you want to learn more, please contact the office of
Donor Relations & Stewardship at 303.871.2699.