Jeff Keller '91, David Keller '95, Temp Keller, Dennis Keller, Economics and Business Professor Mark Smith, and Connie Keller

(From left) Jeff Keller ’91, David Keller ’95, Temp Keller, Dennis Keller, Economics and Business Professor Mark Smith, and Connie Keller.

Colorado College alumni Jeff Keller and David Keller announced a $4 million commitment to the Keller Family Venture Grant Program for individual student research on Thursday, Nov. 5, at CC’s Keller Family Venture Grant Forum. The announcement includes $3 million to permanently endow the program, which the Keller family has faithfully supported for a decade.

During 2014-15, Keller Family Venture Grants took Colorado College students to five continents and 13 countries. During the forum, Soren Fryholm ’18, presented “Going the Distance: The Effects of Travel on Team” about a film he made of the men’s soccer team’s trip to Europe.

Anna Cain ’17, an English major who also presented at the forum, studied the book “Ulysses” and its ongoing impact on Ireland. She used funds from her Venture Grant to travel to Dublin to research the commercialism that has developed from “Ulysses.”

“It began as just seeing how Ireland was honoring its legacy; then I was finding lots of industries whose entire business models were based on their connection to ‘Ulysses,’ ” she said.

“We are pleased to announce that the Keller Venture Grant Program, which benefits more than 100 Colorado College students every year, has received an extraordinary gift from the Keller family,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “During the past 10 years, Venture Grants have become a defining characteristic of a Colorado College education, and this generous commitment by the Kellers will ensure that the college continues to grow, support and fund these highly valuable student experiences.”

Keller Venture Grants allow students to imagine, articulate, and bring to life their own original research or other project of high academic merit that will give them self-directed scholarship experiences that are rarely available in undergraduate studies. The program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary during an annual forum that included presentations by several students, provided $121,750 to 134 Colorado College students for research and experiential projects during the 2014-15 academic year.

“We have seen firsthand how students with Venture Grants are able to create and pursue their own research projects and, in the process, enrich their educational experience while building self-reliance and self-confidence,” said Jeff and David Keller. “By providing funding for these experiences, we wanted to support Colorado College’s effort to provide these research opportunities for students to explore a topic in depth outside of the classroom environment.”

To obtain Venture Grants, students must submit project proposals that have faculty sponsorship. The maximum grant is $1,000. The additional funding that will be available as a result of the Keller family’s $3 million endowment gift will not only ensure that the program continues, it also will support an additional 20 grants annually. The college also discovered that many student projects require funding beyond the grant’s $1,000 per-project award. The Keller’s gift will allow the college to award additional funds up to $500 for as many 72 Venture Grant projects annually.

“The Kellers’ steadfast commitment to the Venture Grant Program has benefited more than 1,000 students throughout the past decade,” said President Tiefenthaler. “Their impact on Colorado College is already immeasurable. Their most recent gift — and the possibilities it holds for our students — is extraordinary.”

“Interacting with students who receive these grants has been incredibly rewarding for our family,” said Jeff Keller. “We are excited to see where students go and what they accomplish over the next decade.”

Jeff Keller, who graduated in 1991, serves on the college’s Board of Trustees. His brother, David Keller, is a 1995 alumnus. They were joined at the forum by their brother, Temp Keller, and their parents Connie and Dennis Keller.