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2016 Media Releases

University of Denver Receives $10M to Address Societal Issues Such as Poverty, Education and Homelessness

Nov. 17, 2016 – The University of Denver's new Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise sets its vision in motion today with the announcement of a $10 million naming gift from Laura Barton and her family in honor of the late Peter Barton. This transformative gift will provide seed capital and long-term funding to support the Institute's mission: to address major social issues and improve society by promoting and enhancing traditional and new forms of philanthropy, social enterprise and partnerships among the private, public, nonprofit and academic sectors.

The Bartons have been longstanding friends and supporters of both the University and David Miller, executive director for the Institute.

"We are grateful for the Barton family's philanthropic vision and leadership. Their gift will have a profound impact on our community and region for years to come," said Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. "With DU as the anchor institution, we will form deep collaborations with our community partners to advance the public good."

The first of its kind in Colorado, the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise will bring together all sectors of the community to work on complex social issues such as poverty, education, homelessness and healthcare.

"I know that the late Peter Barton would be honored, as our kids and I are, to have the Barton name on Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise," said Laura Barton. "We are excited to leverage our philanthropic power with this wonderful investment in collaborative philanthropy. We hope the gift inspires others to invest in this important work."

The Institute will use the infrastructure and vast student, faculty and staff talent of the University of Denver to form an interdisciplinary approach that advances many initiatives of the University's strategic vision, DU IMPACT 2025.

The gift is a commitment over the next five years to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the Institute. Initial funding allows for the hiring of two staff members who will launch the Institute's cross-sector partnerships, social entrepreneur programs and other strategic opportunities.

"A gift as transformative as this one from the Barton family sets the stage for the enactment of a grand vision," said Armin Afsahi, vice chancellor for Advancement. "Their philanthropy signals their confidence in us, and in the bold leadership of Chancellor Chopp and David Miller, in addressing the most pressing societal issues."

Laura and the late Peter Barton first met Miller in 1988. Laura and Miller both worked for Federico Peña, former Denver Mayor and current University of Denver Trustee. When Miller was president and CEO of The Denver Foundation, Barton joined the foundation's board of trustees. Miller worked closely with the Bartons to help shape their philanthropic plan and they developed a mutual appreciation of each other's perspectives on how to create philanthropy with deep and lasting impact.

When Miller first envisioned an institute at DU dedicated to serving the region's most vulnerable people, he went to Barton for advice. Those conversations developed into an ambitious partnership that will power the Barton Institute and extend that vision into the future.

"I am honored and humbled by this gift from Laura Barton and her family," said Miller, who joined DU in 2016 after serving for nearly 20 years as president and CEO of The Denver Foundation. "Generosity of this magnitude comes with the tremendous responsibility to ensure that the Barton family philanthropic legacy at DU is one that will have a meaningful impact."

The Barton family's philanthropic leadership at DU extends beyond the Institute. Laura Barton previously provided the lead philanthropic gift for the $6.32 million lacrosse stadium complex at the University of Denver, which was the first collegiate stadium in the nation to be designed solely for lacrosse. The stadium is named for her first husband, the late Peter Barton, who was the former president and chief executive of cable television company Liberty Media Corp. Laura Barton lives in Denver with her husband, the artist William Matthews. The couple have five children.