Surprise! Earlham receives $1M gift from anonymous donor on eve of 2017 | Earlham College
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Surprise! EC receives $1M gift from anonymous donor on eve of 2017

January 04, 2017

An anonymous donor has given Earlham College a surprise gift of $1 million for student scholarships.

The funds were delivered in the form of a grant from Our Giving Tree, a donor-advised account at the Chicago Community Foundation. The College is working with that organization to allocate the gift according to the anonymous donor’s wishes.

“It was a wonderful surprise to receive this gift,” says Avis Stewart, vice president for institutional advancement and community relations. “Major gifts like this are usually the result of long-term relationships with donors we know very well, so we are accustomed to knowing when the gifts are coming.

“Every once in a while, though, we get gifts we were not expecting,” he says. “This gift is humbling because it reminds us that the positive impact of Earlham is felt way beyond campus and that there are many generous philanthropists who see the value of the education we offer and who want to support our students.”

Almost all Earlham students receive some form of financial aid, and the College provides about $23 million per year in grants and scholarships based on students’ financial need. College officials say gifts like this anonymous one provide a boost to Earlham’s mission, and remind the staff that the College’s influence is spread far and wide. 

Gail Connerley, senior director of annual giving, described how she felt when she learned that the College would receive the unexpected gift: “It was very exciting. It’s not every day we get a million dollars for our students. It is a pretty incredible way to start a new year.” 

The College plans to use this gift to set up a scholarship fund in the name of Our Giving Tree. This restricted spend-down fund will be used to support need-based financial awards that are given to Earlham students as part of their financial aid packages. The Our Giving Tree Scholarship Fund will provide the College with an invaluable resource to help meet the demonstrated financial need of future Earlhamites.

“We are deeply grateful for this wonderfully generous, quite unexpected gift," says President David Dawson. “As we prepare for the spring, I hope this gift will inspire us to redouble our own energy to advance Earlham’s mission — to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality and to educate socially responsible leaders who are prepared to improve the world.”

This surprise gift came at the end of a semester during which the College had many reasons to celebrate. In September, a team of students and recent graduates won the $1 Million Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for social good. In November, alumna Margaret Hamiliton ’58 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. And at the end of the semester, Hashem Abu Sham’a ’17 became a Rhodes Scholar, the first Earlham student to be so honored in almost 100 years.

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and




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