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W&L Students Learn the Importance of Paying it Forward The second annual Philanthropy Education Week highlighted the impact donations have on the undergraduate experience.

Trivia-Taxi-2-scaled-600x400 W&L Students Learn the Importance of Paying it ForwardLeah Beard, director of leadership development and student engagement, and Jake Reeves, assistant director of inclusion and engagement, shuttle students across campus in the Trivia Taxi.

Washington and Lee University students recently had the opportunity to learn about the importance of philanthropy, fundraising initiatives and how donations impact the undergraduate experience and the university as a whole during the second annual Philanthropy Education Week (PEW), March 11-14.

Throughout the week, students participated in interactive activities like philanthropy bingo, writing thank-you notes to donors and Trivia Taxi, where “celebrity” faculty drivers offered golf cart rides to students while they were quizzed about philanthropy at W&L.

Students representing Kathekon, the Senior Gift Committee, Career Fellows, Development Ambassadors and OIE Ambassadors attended a dinner, Philanthropy and the W&L Experience, to hear from campus leaders about their personal experiences with philanthropy. Guest speakers at the March 13 event included Michael Hill, director of the Delaney Center and professor of Africana studies; Matthew Loar ‘07, director of fellowships; Sybil Prince Nelson ’01, assistant professor of mathematics; and John Jensen’01, executive director of alumni and career services.

In his remarks, Loar emphasized to students how scholarship funding allowed him to not only attend Washington and Lee, but also provided him the opportunity to further his post-graduate education, which ultimately led him back to his alma mater. “I am here because of philanthropy; it is the thing that has gotten me to where I am,” Loar said. “It is the thing that drives me to do the work I do every single day.”

Jules Seay ’24, a senior from Atlanta who is serving as co-chair of the Senior Gift Committee and a scholarship recipient herself, knows firsthand what it means to benefit from the generosity of others. Now she is paying it forward by asking her class to support the university’s Annual Fund with donations before they graduate this May and also by encouraging alumni to give. “Your dollars go to support students directly,” Seay said. “Every dollar counts, and every dollar makes a difference for students.”

Prince Nelson, who serves as a volunteer class agent for the Class of 2001, challenged students to think about how they can give back after they graduate. “I do everything I can to give back,” she said. “What can you give back so that other people can have the same wonderful experience you had here at Washington and Lee?”

Trivia-Txi-Lena-scaled-600x400 W&L Students Learn the Importance of Paying it ForwardProvost Lena Hill takes students to and from classes in the Trivia Taxi.

Through the various fun, educational and thought-provoking activities during Philanthropy Education Week, organizers hope the message of impact resonates with students. As they learned, beginning with U.S. President George Washington’s gift of 100 shares of James River Canal Company stock to then Liberty Hall Academy in 1796, to the subsequent thousands of donations to capital projects, scholarships and the Annual Fund each year, philanthropy impacts every facet of campus and the W&L experience.

“Philanthropy Education Week provides an opportunity to engage our entire campus community – students, faculty and staff — in philanthropy and its impact on W&L,” said Savannah Blake, assistant director of annual giving, who spearheads the PEW program. “We offer meaningful programming for the campus community to learn about the impact of fundraising initiatives, to practice gratitude and to deepen their understanding. By fostering a culture of generosity and service, our students are empowered to actively contribute to the growth and success of their school.”

Visit www.wlu.edu/giving to learn more about the impact of philanthropy on the university and its students, faculty, staff and alumni.


In the past academic year (2022-2023), how many total alumni gave to W&L?

How much did the Annual Fund raise in 2022-2023?

Is the Annual Fund restricted or unrestricted money?
Unrestricted — funds can be spent on areas of greatest need as they arise. Annual gifts can also be directed to specific areas like financial aid, academics, arts, athletics, diversity and inclusion, and student opportunities.

Who is W&L’s largest donor?
The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation. The foundation’s gifts have generated more than $250M in funds for the university.

What percentage of the Class of 2023 donated to their senior gift?

What percentage of the cost of a W&L education is funded by philanthropy?