On Tuesday, Sept. 28, President Sean Decatur announced in a news bulletin that Kenyon will partner with the Schuler Education Foundation through the Kenyon Access Initiative, a fund which uses donations to create scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Under the partnership, the foundation will match every dollar the Kenyon Access Initiative receives from Kenyon donors up to $25 million by June 2026.
The Schuler Education Foundation has the stated goal of helping students from underrepresented backgrounds attend highly selective liberal arts colleges. Working through various programs like the Schuler Initiative and the Schuler Scholar Program, they seek to use philanthropic resources to ameliorate the barriers to entry into such schools. In partnering with the Foundation in its inaugural cycle, Kenyon joins five other liberal arts colleges: Tufts University, Bates College, Union College and Carleton College. The Foundation will fully match Kenyon donors.
“At the end of the day, it’s this foundation saying, ‘you know what, we’re going to help you build this endowment as quickly as possible,’” Vice President of Finance Todd Burson said.
The partnership will rely on a cooperative effort between Kenyon donors and the Foundation. In total, it seeks to acquire enough funding to create “permanent pathways” for 50 students in each class per year.
Decatur said that this partnership will tie into the goals of the College’s new strategic plan. “A key part of the strategic plan is also to continue to focus our efforts on expanding the diversity of the student body, especially socioeconomic diversity,” he said. “We arrived at that in the strategic plan because it is in alignment with our mission and values, and it’s something that we think is important for the college to do.”
In the past, Kenyon has had to deny admission to qualified students due to an inability to provide sufficient financial aid. Decatur expressed hope that the partnership will give the College a steady financial resource through which they can prevent such cases.
“The opportunity to raise $50 million with the added bonus, assuming we’re successful, [will allow us to] support the financial aid of students who are already here while specifically adding new Pell [Grant] eligible and [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] students to the campus,” Decatur said. “It’s just a perfect fit with the strategic plan and actually provides the resources for us to be able to do that much more quickly than we had anticipated.”
The Kenyon Access Initiative is expected to fully reach its goal by June 2026.