Centre College in Danville, Kentucky announced that it had received the largest scholarship gift in the school’s history – a $20 million donation from an anonymous donor plus a $20 million matching grant from the Schuler Education Foundation as part of that foundation’s nationwide initiative to expand opportunities for both undocumented students and Pell-eligible students to attend highly selective liberal arts colleges.
In addition to the anonymous gift and the Schuler grant (the largest foundation grant the college has ever received), Centre has pledged to raise $10 million more in matching funds over the next 10 years to establish a total scholarship fund of $50 million.
Over the course of the next decade, it’s anticipated that the new funds will allow Centre to support more than 120 students who might not otherwise have been able to afford to attend the college. That’s a significant number for Centre, whose total enrollment is about 1,400 students.
Centre College, a highly regarded liberal arts college in Danville, Kentucky, is one of five other highly selective colleges recently selected to participate in the Schuler Access Initiative, joining Barnard College, the College of the Holy Cross, Scripps College, and Trinity College in the second cohort of the Initiative. Last year, the Schuler Access Initiative partnered with its first cohort of institutions, a group that included Bates College, Carleton College, Kenyon College, Tufts University, and Union College.
The Schuler Education Foundation is aiming to partner eventually with up to 20 highly selective liberal arts colleges. It plans to spend $500 million over the next 10 years as part of the access initiative. And with the matching funds from the selected colleges, the project potentially could generate an investment of $1 billion in financial aid for traditionally underserved students.
“Our community demonstrates that an extraordinary liberal arts and sciences education leads our graduates to meaningful lives and purposeful careers,” said President Milton C. Moreland in the college’s new release.
“I am deeply grateful for the generosity of the Schuler Education Foundation—as well as our anonymous donor—for helping us to provide an ambitious model of support for deserving students.”
“A liberal arts education is unique to the United States and has proven to be a great foundation for success in post-graduate studies,” said Jack Schuler, co-founder of the Scholar Education Foundation. “By partnering with these five additional top colleges who serve a broad range of students, we have the opportunity to support even more undocumented and Pell-eligible students.”
“Our family focuses on underrepresented, undocumented and low-income students, because we know that they are smart, capable, hard-working, ambitious students who, when given equal access to opportunities, do great things to benefit our communities,” added Tanya Schuler Sharman, co-founder of the Schuler Education Foundation.
According to President Moreland, Centre has made significant investments to grow its enrollment of Pell-eligible students from 14.5% in 2013-14 to 21.2% in 2021-22. As part of this new initiative and central to Centre’s strategic plan, the college is committing to increasing the number of students who are Pell-eligible or undocumented to 25% in the next five years.
Last April, Centre announced that it had received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor that it’s using to provide all incoming first-generation students with $5,000 in enrichment funding in addition to whatever financial aid they receive from the college.
According to Centre, the funds may be used by students to pursue such activities as independent research, entrepreneurship programming, professional internships and study abroad experiences. Recipients will also be able to use the funds to pay for other resources, such as a laptop, textbooks, healthcare services, travel or other emergency fees during their four years at the college.
Kelly Knetsche, Centre’s vice president for development and alumni engagement, said the college was confident it could meet the $10 million fundraising challenge. “Our community recognizes that a strong liberal arts and sciences curriculum and extraordinary career support provides students with opportunities to make a real impact in the world.”