T. Denny Sanford Gifts $30 Million to the Horatio Alger Association Endowment, Representing the Largest Single Gift in the Nonprofit Organization’s 71-Year History 

January 29, 2018

McKenna Young
484-385-2913 (office)
[email protected]

T. Denny Sanford Gifts $30 Million to the Horatio Alger Association Endowment, Representing the Largest Single Gift in the Nonprofit Organization’s 71-Year History

Horatio Alger Member from the Class of 2016, Mr. Sanford’s generous philanthropy will benefit 12 selected universities across the United States, providing scholarships to deserving young men and women

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 29, 2018) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced receipt of a $30 million endowment gift from T. Denny Sanford, Horatio Alger Association Member and chairman of the board for United National Corporation, the holding company for First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This transformative gift is the largest single donation ever received by the Association since its inception in 1947.

Through this extraordinary gift, the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program has been established. A gift to the Association endowment, it will provide $3 million per year in scholarships – for the next 10 years – to Horatio Alger Scholars choosing to attend any of the 12 universities selected by Mr. Sanford. These universities will receive a scholarship allocation from the $3 million total based on current enrollment served. 

Receiving up to $250,000 in scholarship funds per year from the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program are:

Receiving up to $150,000 in scholarship funds per year from the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program are:

“This is a historic gift to the Association and one that will benefit deserving young men and women across this nation for the next decade,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “We are immensely grateful to Denny for his commitment to our mission and his willingness to step forward with such a magnificent gift. It is an act of generosity that won’t soon be forgotten.”

“When I received the Horatio Alger Association Award in 2016, it was one of the greatest honors I could have imagined in my life,” said Mr. Sanford. “The Association incorporates leaders from the business, entertainment and political communities.  Through the Association, I am honored to be connected with some of the most important and impressive persons in the United States.  The Association’s mission of transforming young lives through its scholarship programs perfectly aligns with my motto in life, which is ‘Aspire to inspire before you expire.’ As I considered where my philanthropy could make the greatest impact, I turned to the Association.  I wanted to create a program that would remind students that if someone like me can overcome challenges to succeed, they can too.  I am proud to make this gift and hope it will not only allow these resilient young men and women to take that next step forward in their lives, but also inspire continued generosity toward all of our Scholars.”

The Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program will benefit Horatio Alger Scholars beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year. Eligibility for this special scholarship is two-fold. Students selected through the established application process for the Horatio Alger National and State Scholarship Programs who then matriculate into one of the 12 selected universities are eligible for this award. In addition, students who apply to any of the 12 selected universities and are then identified by admissions counselors as meeting the Horatio Alger Scholar criteria are also eligible.

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 faced great adversity and have displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming them. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $143 million to students in need. Scholarships are funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.

“When Denny Sanford became a Horatio Alger Member in 2016, he spoke of making the world a better place and with this gift, he is doing exactly that,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “We are grateful for his commitment to our Scholars and we are honored to have the 12 selected universities under this new program as collegiate partners of the Horatio Alger Association.”

Mr. Sanford is a renowned philanthropist and was named one of “America’s Top Donors” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. His charitable giving focuses on health care and children’s causes and his contributions exceed $1 billion. In collaboration with Arizona State University, Mr. Sanford created two programs, Sanford Inspire Program and Sanford Harmony Program, both of which aim to support teachers and children in their educational experiences and environments and are being expanded nationally by the private, nonprofit National University. In 2014, Mr. Sanford donated $25 million to create Build Dakota Scholarship Fund, a program that provides full-ride scholarships for students that enroll in a South Dakota technical institute field of study determined as a high-need workforce area in the state. Most recently, he gifted $5 million to Long Island University to create the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a state-of-the-art research complex designed to foster student entrepreneurship. In the medical arena, the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota, along with 49 hospitals and 250 clinics in the U.S., are named in his honor in recognition of his general support. In addition, two other schools within colleges bear his name: The T. Denny Sanford School of Family and Social Dynamics at Arizona State University and The Sanford College of Education at National University, which is also home to the founding Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Mr. Sanford also funds ongoing research of breast cancer, Type 1 diabetes and stem cell programs. He has received 44 awards from various nonprofits.

For more information regarding Mr. Sanford’s landmark gift to the Horatio Alger Association, please visit www.horatioalger.org.  For more information about the 71st Annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies and the New Member Class of 2018, please visit www.horatioalger.org/2018-award-recipients or follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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 services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $143 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.