Priority: Scholarships & The CC Experience

The Colorado College experience benefits all students when we open the college’s doors to those who possess the talent, curiosity, and drive to be changemakers. Scholarship support and resources to make CC more accessible have been central to Building on Originality because financial resources should not be a barrier to the CC experience.  

During the campaign, donors contributed more than $90 million in outright gifts, pledges, and bequest intentions for scholarships and the CC experience, creating 145 new endowed and current-use scholarships in the process as well as supporting internships, student research, and experiential learning opportunities. Increasing resources for scholarships and other opportunities made possible on the Block Plan helps the college admit promising students, regardless of their ability to pay, and opens doors to all that CC has to offer. 

Challenges Lead to Unprecedented Scholarship Support  

Alumni-led matching challenges generate significant gifts and commitments for endowed scholarships during Building on Originality campaign 

For Colorado College alumni Susie Burghart ‘77 and the late William S. Smith ’74, personal philanthropy is meaningful — but creating a wave of giving across the community is what matters most.  

Burghart launched Susie B’s Challenge in 2018, when she was Chair of the Colorado College Board of Trustees. Through the effort, she matched all gifts of $50,000 or more to the Colorado Pledge, an access program to fund endowed scholarships for lower- and middle-income students from Colorado. The initiative ensures a Colorado College education is as affordable for Colorado residents as the state’s flagship institution.  

Susie B’s Challenge successfully concluded in the fall of 2020, with $5 million raised for the Colorado Pledge — including Burghart’s initial $2.5 million commitment and $2.5 million in matching funds. Funds raised for the Colorado Pledge will be used to assist CC students in perpetuity. 

Students entering CC in fall 2020 were the first to benefit from the Colorado Pledge, which was designed to support Colorado students from families whose adjusted gross income is $200,000 or below. In August 2021, the threshold was adjusted to $250,000. To learn more about the Colorado Pledge, visit

"I am immensely grateful to donors who stepped up to support students from Colorado. It’s important to ensure that a Colorado College education is financially accessible for students from their home state.” — Susie Burghart ‘77 

Smith, who passed away in April 2021, also created transformational impact through multiple matching challenges for endowed scholarships. In 2015, he pledged a generous estate gift that would encourage others to support scholarships for CC students. In what was dubbed the “Endowed Scholarship Challenge 101,” Smith urged 100 other donors, mostly CC alumni, to commit $100,000 or more toward endowed scholarships. In turn, he would direct $100,000 through his estate, up to $10 million.  

At the outset, his hope was to raise a total of $20 million. In fact, the challenge resonated so strongly with the 100 donors who participated that more than $43 million was generated for CC scholarships by January 2020. 

Given the success of the initial challenge, Smith doubled down in May 2020. He pledged an additional $5 million to match gifts of $50,000 or more for scholarships. By matching the funds, Smith lowered the threshold for donors to endow a scholarship — which typically requires a gift of $100,000 or more. Funds raised throughout the challenge are invested in the college’s endowment, ensuring that future students will benefit in perpetuity. 

As of March 2021, $7.65 million has been raised for student financial aid and scholarships through the Will Smith Challenge, creating or enhancing 48 total scholarships. The Will Smith ’74 Scholarship Challenge is ongoing, with less than half of the matching funds still available, so donors can still get involved. To learn more, contact Megan Yingling at

“Throughout my life, I’ve felt how powerful human connection is, and I learned how important it is to give.” — Will Smith ‘74 

To learn more about supporting scholarships and the CC experience, contact Preston Briggs at or 719-389-6785. 

Report an issue - Last updated: 01/26/2023
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