Starting a college scholarship endowment fund is no longer a goal for the well to do. If you have the interest and are willing to invest your money you can make it happen. Two alumni from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have done just that.
When Zacch Estrada-Petersen, a 2005 graduate, became a member of the UNCC Alumni Association Board of Directors in summer 2014, it came with an expectation to make annual financial gifts to the University, through any avenue. Enlisting the assistance of fellow alumnus, 2007 graduate Kevin Jackson, together they pledged a $25,000 scholarship endowment gift over five years to the University, specifically targeted toward underserved males majoring in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. The goal is to provide critical financial support to these students, as well as mentorship, networking opportunities, and the moral support needed to keep them focused on the finish line.
Together, they created the endowment initiative My Brother’s Keeper, inspired by the Obama initiative of the same name, which was created to “address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.”
So how does an endowment fund work? First, have the end game in mind and the purpose of your endowment fund. Is it to help students pay for books, tuition, meals, or housing? Next, contact your alma mater or school of choice to see if they offer the endowment option. Let them know you would like to start an endowment fund and tell them the purpose. If your school of choice offers the fund, they will provide you with the guidelines to get started, including how much capital you’ll need to raise to initiate, how much of the investment income can be spent (merit based, need based, field of study, etc) and other important details.
Currently in their endowment-building phase, both Estrada-Petersen and Jackson have pledged $12,500 each over a five-year period to meet the minimum $25,000 endowment threshold at UNCC. In addition to investing their personal income, the duo have opened up the opportunity for others to donate to the fund allowing their family, friends and supporters to be a part of what they are creating. Once the $25,000 goal is met, an annual scholarship will be given using the interest earned from the endowment. The principal balance is never spent and becomes a perpetual source of scholarship funding, even if no additional funds are added.
“We really found Black males to be underrepresented in a number of these highly sought-after and very lucrative fields,” says Estrada-Petersen. “We’re hoping the scholarship fund can not only provide financial support to UNC Charlotte students in these degree paths, but will encourage other students to pursue them as well.”
Interested in starting and endowment fund of your own? Find out if your university offers the program by contacting the alumni or giving department at your school of choice.