Support the Boettcher Scholars Fund

Over the years, we have heard from many Boettcher Scholar Alumni and others who have a strong desire to pay-it-forward by giving back to the scholarship program.

Anyone who is inspired by Boettcher Scholars can donate to the Boettcher Scholars Fund, a 501(c)(3)-public charity that provides philanthropic resources in support of the Boettcher Foundation’s charitable programs and initiatives.

Floyd and Curtis facing each other at a table, conversingEarlier this month, Senior Director of Communications & Community Engagement Curtis Esquibel sat down with Alumni Engagement Manager Floyd Pierce for a Q&A about the Boettcher Scholars Fund. The transcript of their conversation is below.

Q: Curtis — What was the reasoning/rationale behind creating the Boettcher Scholars Fund?

A: Floyd: We have been exploring the idea of fund development for the better part of the past decade. What drove this was the number of Alumni who have reached out to us over the years with a desire to “pay it forward” by giving back to the Foundation. These generous individuals believe in our mission and they want to see us increase the impact of the scholarship program and eventually grow the number of Scholars.

In 2023, we convened a working group – comprised of Trustees, a diverse group of Alumni from various decades and connection to Boettcher, and staff – to talk about Alumni engagement and fund development. And, after studying years of Alumni and Board surveys, and having conversations among the group, the feedback we received was to do what we can to increase Boettcher’s impact. Two of those outcomes were to hire an Alumni Engagement Manager and to develop a Case for Support that explains the ‘why’ behind the Boettcher Scholars Fund.

The creation of the Boettcher Scholars Fund also opens the door for other types of giving from our Alumni, including donor-advised funds and IRA qualified charitable distributions.


Q: Curtis — Is the Boettcher Scholars Fund only for Alums to donate to? I thought Scholars were always told that “Uncle Claude didn’t want his money back?”

A: Floyd: The Boettcher Scholars Fund was created for anyone to donate to. In fact, we’ve had a number of individual donors historically who are not Alumni. One example is a couple that decided to provide funding for two additional scholarships annually because they believe in our mission and support our selection process as a merit-based scholarship provider. This is how we increased from 40 to 42 Scholars annually in the mid-2010s.

Regarding the second question, your statement is precisely accurate – the Boettcher family and the Foundation have never wanted to attach any strings to our scholarships – and we still don’t. That said, many of our Alumni from multiple generations have come forward asking us to set up an entity that they could support monthly, annually, or by putting Boettcher in their wills should they choose to. Certainly there is no expectation or assumption that our Alumni give back; what we are doing is creating a giving vehicle for Alumni to “pay it forward” if they so desire.


Q: Curtis What will the Boettcher Scholars Fund support?

A: Floyd: The Boettcher Scholars Fund will support two main areas. The first is helping increase the impact of the scholarship. This means we can create more educational enrichment opportunities for Scholars during their undergraduate years whether that’s research opportunities, study abroad experiences, individual or cohort leadership excursions, etc.

We can do this through building partnerships with other organizations and curating learning experiences. Our more recent Alums know that the scholarship is so much more than a check to cover tuition and other expenses. This is a deeper investment in supporting the interests and passions of Scholars.

The second area the Scholars Fund will support eventually is to increase the number of scholarships. Over the past several years, we have received more than 1,900 applications. From that pool we interview about 100 finalists and award 50 scholarships annually. There’s always a number of students we decline who are deserving and outstanding – and who we know will be outstanding contributors to their undergraduate institutions, communities, and/or the State of Colorado. In the future, we also see a possibility to grow other areas of the organization.


Q: Curtis — How many scholarships are we talking about potentially increasing to and would that water down the competitiveness and prestige of the scholarship?

A: Floyd — We don’t have a specific number of scholarships we’re working toward increasing to. Over time, I think we’d love to get to 60 or maybe 70 – but to do that would take a substantial amount of fund development. For example, it takes approximately $2 million to endow one scholarship permanently.

Increasing the number of Scholars will not take away the scholarship’s prestige. In fact, when looking at the competitiveness, selectivity, and prestige, the fact remains we are not awarding enough scholarships and we are still losing intellectual and leadership talent to other states for higher education.

We anticipate eclipsing 2,000 applications consistently in the near future. As part of our research in creating the Boettcher Scholars Fund, we analyzed high school graduate data from the Colorado Department of Education. We found that in 1960, the furthest year that CDE could find data, there were fewer than 16,000 public high school graduates annually. Today, that number is just under 70,000.


Q: Curtis — Wow, $2 million to endow one scholarship permanently — that’s a significant amount and only a major gift would accomplish that. What if I’m a young Alum and can only give $25 a month as I’m still early in my career – how will I know I’m making an impact?

A: Floyd: A meaningful donation for any individual always has context behind it. The amount isn’t what matters; we always say to Alums that it’s the spirit of philanthropy and giving is what’s most important and meaningful. Also, a $25 per month gift would support Scholar programming. For example, that amount would support a Scholar’s attendance at our annual summer Scholars Experience Program. And, for those looking to give at a different level, say $3,000, that would support one specific Educational Enrichment opportunity for a current Scholar.


Q: Curtis – Boettcher has built out its four T strategy – time, talent, treasure, and ties.  What is an upcoming event or program that you are most excited about?  

A: Floyd: There are too many to choose from, so I’m going to name a couple: We have recently launched a pilot mentorship program called Boettcher Connect that will allow our Alums to mentor juniors, seniors, and young Alums over a six-month period. I’m excited about this opportunity as many Scholars have asked for it, and it gives our Alums who live outside of Colorado a chance to plug into the Foundation in a meaningful way. And then, I’m looking forward to our big, biannual Boettcher summit in 2025 called Ripple Effect. This will serve as a reunion of Boettcher Scholars across generations, and I believe this gathering will remind us all how lucky we are to be a part of this community!

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