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DU Receives Gift to Address Societal Issues

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Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

Theresa Ahrens

$10 million naming gift will help tackle poverty, education and homelessness


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.

Barton Institute

The first of its kind in Colorado, the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise will address major social issues and improve society by promoting and enhancing traditional and new forms of philanthropy, social enterprise and partnerships among private, public, nonprofit and academic sectors.

“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,” says Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “With DU as the anchor institution, we will form deep collaborations with our community partners to advance the public good.”

Laura Barton
Laura Barton

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

“I know that the late Peter Barton would be honored, as our kids and I are, to have the Barton name on the Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise,” says 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 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,” says 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.”

David Miller
David Miller

Laura and the late Peter Barton 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,” says Miller, who joined DU in 2016 after serving for nearly 20 years as the 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.”

David Miller, Laura Barton, and Chancellor Rebecca Chopp
David Miller, Laura Barton, and Chancellor Rebecca Chopp

The Barton family’s philanthropic leadership at DU extends beyond the Institute. Click here to read how their generosity lead to DU’s lacrosse stadium complex, the first collegiate stadium in the nation designed solely for lacrosse.

The Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise brought the discussion of ending childhood hunger to campus. Last month the institute welcomed Bill Shore, founder and CEO of Share our Strength, to the University. The nonprofit has grown to become one of the nation’s leading anti-hunger and anti-poverty organizations, raising and investing more than $600 million in the fight against hunger.

The vision of DU Impact 2025 was also realized earlier this year when John Madden, developer of the Fiddler’s Green campus, donated a collection of artwork valued at $10 million to the University of Denver. Click here to read how it’s expanding the university’s presence in the community and helping students at DU.