Herseth Sandlin: $30 Million Scholarship Gift 'Has the Power to Truly Change the World'

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$30 Million Endowment Gift Creates Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program

Thanks to a transformative $30 million endowment gift from South Dakota entrepreneur and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, students who choose Augustana will soon be eligible to receive a scholarship through the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to helping youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.

The gift is the largest single donation ever received by the association since its inception in 1947 and will provide $3 million per year in scholarships — for the next 10 years — to Horatio Alger Scholars choosing to attend one of 12 universities selected by Sanford, including Augustana.

Through the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program, Augustana will receive a scholarship allocation of $150,000 per year beginning in the 2019-20 academic year to award to students who meet the Horatio Alger Scholarship criteria.

The Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this goal, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like association members, Horatio Alger Scholars have also faced great adversity and have displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming challenges.

"This gift has the power to truly change the world," said Augustana President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

"The young people who will benefit from the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program will go on to become the change makers and thought leaders of tomorrow, serving their communities as business leaders, teachers, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, journalists, researchers and more. And in turn, they will make the world we all call home a better place."

— Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Augustana University President

"Augustana is enormously grateful to Denny Sanford for this extraordinary gift; for his belief in the power of education; for including Augustana among the institutions that can serve students under this endowment; and to the Horatio Alger Association for its efforts to help young people achieve their dreams," Herseth Sandlin said. 

In making the gift, Sanford said he has always "measured success by how much I can do for others to improve their lives."

"The mission of Horatio Alger Association is rooted in that philosophy and I am proud to support our Scholars in this important way. I have been lucky to have been profoundly affected by exceptional, forward-thinking universities — in South Dakota and across the United States — and I wanted to pay tribute to their good work through this new Association scholarship fund," Sanford said. "I have every confidence that the Horatio Alger Scholars who choose to attend any of these 12 universities will have their lives transformed for the better."

Applications for the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program will open in August 2018 for students entering college in Fall 2019. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled full time as a high school senior in the United States; be progressing normally toward graduation with plans to enter a college in the U.S. no later than the fall following graduation
  • Exhibit a strong commitment to pursue and complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited non-profit public or private institution in the U.S. (students may start their studies at a two-year institution and then transfer to a four-year institution)
  • Demonstrate critical financial need ($55,000 or lower adjusted gross family income is required)
  • Be involved in co-curricular and community service activities
  • Display integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • Maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0; and
  • Be a U.S. citizen

About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime members. Horatio Alger members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its members and friends, in 2017, the association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada, and also provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the association has awarded more than $125 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people.