In 1988, Dr. Julianne Thomas, CCAS BA '67, received a call from GW's annual fund asking for a pledge. The former zoology major turned pediatrician said she would give, but only to an endowed scholarship for students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
"I received a $65 named scholarship at GW, which is why I went to school fulltime and worked full-time," Dr. Thomas explains. "I wanted to give to an endowed scholarship fund because you need to pool money to make it worthwhile. A few months later, I got a letter saying, 'Thank you for establishing the Columbian College Endowed Scholarship Fund.' I had no idea there was no such fund already at GW."
Richard (Dick) Salerno, SEAS BS '75, also held a full-time job while taking classes at night full-time to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. The GW degree helped him advance his career, and now he wants to help the university offer an education to those who deserve the chance.
"It's important to support education," says Mr. Salerno. Citing the rising costs of higher education, he believes alumni should help those who come after them. "You have to do something to make it possible. Without having endowments and good financial aid packages, you're just not going to get a lot of good students who would want to go."
Claudia Zurita, CCAS BA '19, was a recipient of the Columbian College Endowed Scholarship. "Upon receiving my scholarship, I felt a wave of relief and excitement," says the anthropology major. The scholarship allowed her to focus more on her studies and less on how she'll pay for school. "I still worked and my parents contributed to meet the difference in remaining costs, but the scholarships made a world of difference for us each year."
Dr. Thomas and Mr. Salerno make annual gifts to GW in the form of qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from their retirement accounts. Donors who are 70½ years old or older can give up to $100,000 per year from their retirement accounts directly to a qualified institution, such as GW, without having to pay income taxes on the money. In addition, QCD gifts reduce the donor's taxable income and can be credited to their required minium distribution.
"If you don't need the money, this is a very tax-efficient way of making contributions," says Mr. Salerno. "For anybody who makes a charitable contribution of any kind, it seems to be a very smart way to do it."
Giving to GW is Dr. Thomas' way of saying thank you for an "excellent education" and the direction she received. "GW put me into a profession that I loved for my whole life. People should give to provide that same opportunity for students now and in the future."
Dr. Thomas recalls reading a thank you note from one of her scholarship recipients. "She was planning to pay it forward and help future students when she's able. She said she wouldn't have found what she wanted to do for the rest of her life without GW—and that's what happened to me."
You can join these alumni donors in making a difference for GW students like Claudia Zurita. To learn more about the ways you can give, including QCDs, contact Courtney Tsai, JD, CAP® at 877-498-7590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.