Anchorage donor gifts UAA $250,000 to increase college education access and support student success

by Eric Olson  |   

Student studying on campus.

UAA Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Bobi Rinehart announced today an anonymous donor has made a gift of $250,000 to support the university's 49th Finishers Scholarship, an initiative to aid Alaska residents looking to come back to college after a break or transfer from another institution.

"This extraordinary donation is a transformative gift that will make a significant difference in the lives of many Alaskans," said UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. "Although the donor wishes to remain unnamed, this expression of generosity will not go unrecognized. It is a remarkable demonstration of support for UAA and a clear recognition that higher education is the leading pathway to opportunity and economic vitality."

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the 49th Finishers Scholarship offers additional financial support for Alaska students who would like to return to college but may be experiencing financial hardship. Part-time recipients are awarded $1,000 per year, while full-time students receive $2,000 per year. Over four years, eligible students can receive up to $8,000 in total financial assistance.

The anonymous donor’s contribution is a lead gift as part of the University of Alaska system’s comprehensive fundraising initiative, the For Alaska campaign, an effort to raise $200 million to support scholarships, academic programs, research, workforce development and athletics.

"I've always been a really big believer in education," said the donor. "And I think that the jobs of the future are going to require more education. It is important for our state and our country to invest in this. I want this gift to help Alaska in particular."

The donor, who wanted the public to know she’s a woman philanthropist, said she was inspired in part by the philanthropy of MacKenzie Scott, who has donated billions to universities, arts groups and nonprofits. UAA has benefited from leadership gifts from a number of women community leaders during the For Alaska campaign, including Gloria Okeson, Sarah D. Hartmann, Kathie Bethard, the late Jean Brockel and the late Caroline "Carrie" E.B. Lewis, who bequeathed the largest gift in university history.

"This anonymous donor’s gift is a profound affirmation of the value UAA provides to our state, as well as the powerful statement about the transformative role of women in shaping a bright, bold future for Alaska," said Rinehart.

To learn more about the For Alaska campaign, visit

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