In 2010, Colorado College was challenged to establish scholarships for high-need or first-generation, four-year college students to make CC more financially accessible. The Walton Family Foundation pledged to match contributions up to $10 million. Alumni, parents, and friends of the college answered the call, not only exceeding the challenge’s goal by $800,000 in commitments, which will be matched by the college, but also by reaching the Dec. 31, 2015, target completion date ahead of schedule.
The total impact? Fifty-six endowed scholarships supported by $21.6 million.
“The donors who have generously participated in this challenge are having a transformational effect on Colorado College and on the lives of many students who have been able to attend because of these scholarships,” said President Jill Tiefenthaler. “I’m thrilled their response to the challenge was so resounding because increasing support for scholarships is one of CC’s top priorities.”
During academic year 2014-15, 46.6 percent of CC students received financial assistance from Colorado College. Access to scholarship funds has played a critical role for students like Anastassia Doktorova ’17. She is a recipient of the Pueblo Scholars Scholarship.
“Among the colleges and universities that I considered, CC was able to offer one of the best financial aid packages,” said Doktorova, a mathematics major who participated in summer programs at CC while she was a high school student.
This pre-college introduction helped Doktorova determine that CC was her first college choice. Without scholarship support, absorbing the cost of attending CC would have been difficult or impossible.
“If I had to take out more loans, not only would it have added financial pressure, but I also may not have even been able to attend CC,” she said. “I may have had to consider other options, such as choosing another college.”
Like Doktorova, Luis Quiles ’18, a recipient of the Barcelo Family Scholarship, was offered a competitive financial aid package by CC.
“CC is a place of opportunities,” Quiles said. “Small class sizes, professors who take the time to mentor students, and staff who help solve problems are some examples of how these opportunities not only exist but are also accessible.”
Throughout his first year at the college his appreciation for CC’s ability to pair high-quality learning with financial aid offerings has grown.
“The financial aid package was the deciding factor in my choice to attend CC,” he said. “I simply wouldn’t be here without it.”
Quiles believes that alumni and friends who support CC philanthropically pave the way for abundant opportunities and growth.
“Alumni and friends who give to the college are part of our support network and they value the college as much as I do,” he said. “Through their giving they are sending a message: ‘CC is a place dedicated to our success.’”
Providing access to a CC education to students like Doktorova and Quiles was important to Peggy Cayton’s parents when they established the Jay D. Cayton ’52 and Betty G. (Saunders) Cayton Endowed Scholarship.
One of the scholarship’s recipients, Jordyn Watts ’15, recently completed a bachelor’s in neuroscience with a minor in biology from CC. She ultimately plans to pursue a Ph.D. in behavioral science and credits CC with preparing her well for graduate school.
“Without the financial aid I received from the Cayton Scholarship and the Woman’s Club of Colorado Springs Scholarship there is no chance I would have been able to attend Colorado College or any other school that could have prepared me as well,” she said. “I feel like a competitive applicant for my preferred graduate programs because of the experiences I’ve had at CC.”
Peggy Cayton describes the matching funds from the Walton Family Foundation that matched her parents’ gifts toward the scholarship as “phenomenal.”
“Jordyn is so well rounded and she has really been able to grow and broaden her mind at Colorado College,” she said. “My parents would have appreciated knowing how well she has done while having their scholarship.”
In many ways, the timing of the scholarships established through the challenge could not have been better. In 2013, CC entered into a partnership with QuestBridge, an organization that matches high-achieving, underserved students with 35 top-quality national colleges and universities. The partnership has introduced students across the country to Colorado College and helped applications for admission to CC soar from 5,780 in 2013, to 7,063 in 2014, to 8,054 in 2015.
Scholarship endowments provide the college with much-needed resources to compete for these students. Best of all, these scholarships are not only helping students today, but they also will impact a growing number of students or generations to come.