Building on a longstanding commitment to expanding educational access for Columbus-area students, Teckie and Don Shackelford have created a $21 million endowment to support Columbus City Schools students to attend Denison University.
“Their generosity will make Denison’s life-shaping educational experience attainable for scores of high-achieving high school students who otherwise might not be able to cover the cost of college,” said Denison President Adam Weinberg.
For decades, the Shackelfords have demonstrated their commitment to expanding educational access in Columbus. Teckie Shackelford is one of the founders of I Know I Can, a leading college access program in Columbus and one of the largest and most successful college access programs in the nation.
Inspired by the couple’s actions, in 2016 Denison formalized the Denison-Columbus Alliance in partnership with I Know I Can. Through this program, up to 20 students from Columbus City Schools receive full-tuition scholarships to attend Denison each year.
“Denison holds a cherished place in our hearts and has played a prominent role in our family’s story for generations,” Teckie Shackelford said. “As proud, lifelong residents of central Ohio, we care deeply about promoting education in the local community. We are passionate champions for Columbus City Schools and I Know I Can.”
“Teckie and Don’s extraordinary generosity will allow us to provide exceptional financial aid to some of the best students in the Columbus region,” said Greg Sneed, vice president of enrollment management at Denison. “In the initial years of the program, students are thriving academically, emerging as important campus leaders, and graduating with great jobs and professional opportunities.”
Denison’s board of trustees has prioritized reducing financial barriers to attendance for students who have earned admission. Over the last few years, Denison has doubled the amount of need-based financial aid it awards students and has become one of only about 80 colleges nationally that meet the full demonstrated financial need of every student.
“The Shackelfords’ gift is a natural partnership between a family and a university that both understand the vital importance of making a high-quality education attainable for highly motivated students,” Weinberg said. “We are profoundly grateful to have steadfast champions like Teckie and Don who embody the university’s mission.”
“Teckie and Don are enthusiastic about lifting up young people,” said Yusuf Ahmed, a 2016 graduate and a recipient of a scholarship funded by the Shackelfords. “They made my education at Denison possible and supported my dream of building a career in international development. They have done so much for me and continue to faithfully support Denison University, the Columbus community, and thousands of young people.”
The I Know I Can partnership is one of four scholarship programs set up by the Shackelfords at Denison. Currently, 84 students at Denison have scholarships from one of these programs.
While education and opportunity are signature themes in the Shackelfords’ philanthropy, the couple has also had a tremendous impact on other areas at Denison. Don Shackelford served as a Denison trustee for more than 36 years, and he and Teckie Shackelford have supported multiple capital projects. In addition, they and other family members provided a spacious lobby within the recently opened Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, as well as a garden outside the center, to honor Teckie Shackelford’s late mother, an unwavering supporter of the arts at Denison.
“Nothing is more important to the future of higher education than making college affordable to outstanding students,” Weinberg said. “The partnership with I Know I Can and Columbus City Schools is a model for how this should work. I am deeply thankful for Don and Teckie.”