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Weitz family donates $20 million for financial aid

In honor of the college’s sesquicentennial, the Weitz family donated $20 million for matching new need-based endowment gifts to financial aid.

By matching gifts between $100,000 and $2.5 million from people not on the Board of Trustees, the Weitz family hopes to encourage other Carleton donors to make contributions to the college’s financial aid endowment. Money raised as a result of the Weitz’s matching campaign has been named the 1866 Scholarship Match.

“It seems right that Carleton should be just as accessible to students with financial need as to wealthy ones, and diversity, including socio-economic diversity, improves the educational experience for everybody,” said Wally Weitz ’70, one of the gift’s creators. “Alums, whether they received financial aid or not, benefitted from he generosity of those who came before them, and they may enjoy the feeling of returning the favor.”

the gift announcement on Oct. 14, the college has received $1 million in donations, according to Tommy Bonner, Vice President for External Relations.

The campaign will end on December 31, 2018, at which point the college hopes to have raised $40 million–$20 million from the Weitz family and $20 million from other donors.

However, there is no limit on how much the college hopes to raise for financial aid, according to President Steven Poskanzer.

“We will be able to use anything that is raised,” he said. “Endowed scholarships make Carleton accessible for talented kids to come here in perpetuity.”

The $40 million dollar endowment will likely return $2 million for financial aid annually. Currently, 55 percent of students receive financial aid, and the average annual financial aid award is $38,450, so this additional money is the equivalent of about 40-45 students financial aid packages.

“We can sustain if not increase the number of middle income through lower income students in each class,” said Paul Thiboutot, Director of Admissions. “We are delighted by this gift and hope that it just the start of increased financial aid.”

Prior to this donation, the Weitz family contributed $20 million to the music and performance addition; donated $25 million to the Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections capital campaign in 2007; endowed the Ada M. Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Social Sciences chair;  and gave consistently to the Alumni Annual Fund, according to Bonner.

“The college needs operating funds, physical facilities and endowment, and we’ve been happy to help with all three,” Weitz said.

The Weitz gift fits into the college’s strategic plan, which was completed in 2012. The plan outlines six main goals for growth. One of these goals is to strengthen the college’s socio-economic diversity. As a part of this goal, the college hopes to raise funds for financial aid. The plan specifies that financial aid awards will focus on low income, middle income and international students.

Those making donations for the matching campaign can specify funds or areas that their donations would go, and the Weitz will match unconditionally.

“The world needs more smart, energetic, open-minded citizens that have a liberal arts perspective,” Weitz said. “Having been a trustee for 16 years, I’m confident that Carleton is ‘the real deal’ and that our resources will be used well to produce a small army of leaders that will go out and change the world.”

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