Mary H. Grant

Knowing a material gift wouldn’t be right for her sister and brother-in-law, Mary H. Grant endowed a scholarship at GW to honor their military service and help future Navy ROTC students.

Mary H. Grant, CCAS MPhil, PhD, credits her experience at GW for providing the foundation for a rewarding career in teaching in and leading schools for girls. After she retired, though, she wanted to find a way to give back to the institution that had given her so much, while also honoring loved ones — and doubling the power of her gift.

“Because we had long been interested in the Yellow Ribbon program at GW, my husband and I decided that our planned gift would honor my sister, Susan, and our brother-in-law, Capt. John B. Ahart (Ret.),” Grant says. “Thirty years of service in the U.S. Navy meant that Jack and Susan became true global citizens, and they always embodied the part of military service in which you lend a helping hand to others. GW let us do something that would reflect their convictions and continue their traditions.”

Grant wanted to honor her sister and brother-in-law’s selflessness and belief in service. Since her sister did not like to accumulate possessions, however, finding the perfect gift proved difficult. “It was just more stuff they would have to get rid of the next time they moved,” Grant laughs.

After much thought, she decided the most meaningful thing she could do for the couple would be to give back to those who have already given so much through their military service. She combined this interest with her own devotion to education that came from a career teaching history and government and serving as a senior administrator in several all-girls’ schools across the Northeast.

Through a planned gift, she established the Grant-Ahart Navy ROTC Prize, an endowed prize awarded annually to an undergraduate Navy ROTC student, with a preference for those interested in international affairs.

Grant’s commitment also aligns with GW’s dedication to serving its more than 1,800 military students, among the largest such populations of any private university in the United States. In order to enhance the experiences of veterans and military students, GW has a customized military student orientation, and dedicated career education and development resources, as well as an on-campus military community center.

Grant was also able to take advantage of the first GW Legacy Challenge when she finalized her bequest in 2017. “The Legacy Challenge was important to me since it allowed me to [increase] the impact I could have on veterans at GW,” she explains. Matching dollars went immediately to the Yellow Ribbon Program, which funds tuition expenses not covered by the GI Bill, helping military and veteran students gain access to a world-class GW education.

“A gift through the Legacy Challenge is the best kind of gift,” says Grant. “It allows you to make an impact that you might not be able to make alone. By joining with others, our gifts can have a substantial impact for good, not only on our alma mater, but also on the world.”

If you are interested in increasing the impact of your planned gift like Dr. Grant, contact Adam Lewis at or 202-994-7657.