Jack C. Taylor, philanthropist and founder of Enterprise Holdings, has given Washington University in St. Louis $25 million for undergraduate scholarships on behalf of the company, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced.
The gift will be added to the existing endowed scholarship fund that was established in 2001 by Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car.
“With this extraordinary gift, which matches its own grant 10 years ago — the largest scholarship gift ever made to Washington University — Enterprise Holdings once again demonstrates its dedication to expanding opportunities for deserving young scholars from throughout our society. The company’s generosity also underscores its commitment to give back to the communities it serves,” Wrighton says.
“A gift such as this is a transformative one. While we can measure the impact in terms of numbers of students we help, the true benefits are immeasurable and will have lasting effect,” Wrighton says.
“Today’s recipients of Enterprise Holdings’ gift will be tomorrow’s leaders,” he says. “They will develop new businesses, discover new treatments for diseases, influence our national and global landscape, create important works of art and architecture, improve ways to feed the world, and advance the collective knowledge to make these all possible.
“In a real way, Enterprise Holdings is making a major contribution to society that will exist in perpetuity,” Wrighton says.
The gift gives a big boost to a fundraising initiative called “Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University.” The goal is to raise $150 million for scholarships by 2014.
The numbers demonstrate the impact of the original gift: Since 2001, it has provided financial assistance for nearly 200 undergraduate students.
But the numbers alone cannot explain the impact of these scholarships on the lives of their recipients. Corey Donahue, a junior majoring in political science and economics, is a beneficiary of this valuable scholarship program.
“The Enterprise Holdings scholarship has helped give me the ability to attend a fantastic university without constantly stressing over my financial security,” Donahue says. “Attending Washington University has been amazing and without this scholarship I would not have had this incredible academic and social experience.”
The high-achieving student received an Honorary Scholars Summer Research Award in 2010 to study congressional voting behavior on issues related to air pollution.
Alumna DeAndrea Nichols, a 2010 graduate in communication design, is another example of someone whose Enterprise Holdings scholarship made all the difference in the world.
“Being an Enterprise Holdings Scholar served as one of the most instrumental components of my undergraduate experience,” Nichols says. “As a student of a single-parent family, the scholarship financially helped alleviate a wealth of stress that my education at Washington University could have potentially held. Because of its support, the Enterprise Holdings Scholars Program allowed me to focus on excellence and serve as a creative leader, scholar, and friend amongst my peers.
“As I have chosen to continue my postgraduate education and contribute my creative gifts toward social progress in St. Louis, Enterprise Holdings executives continue to support my journey through mentorship and guidance. For this, I remain honored and thankful to be an Enterprise Holdings Scholar,” Nichols says.
While attending Washington University, Nichols’ community support and service were so outstanding that she received the prestigious Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award, as well as the Langston Hughes Award.
Currently, she handles marketing and graphic design for Cultural Festivals, the organization that sponsors the St. Louis Art Fair. Nichols also serves as project adviser and graphic designer for the Greater University Service Foundation, a local nonprofit founded by WUSTL graduates to provide grants supporting leadership development and service skills to those, such as students, who have no other access for funding.
“For the past 10 years, we have witnessed the impact that this level of giving has had, not only on deserving and talented students who become Enterprise Holdings Scholars, but also on the university, indeed the world, as our graduates grow into tomorrow’s leaders,” says James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
For aspiring WUSTL students who require financial assistance, the Enterprise Holdings Scholars Program provides a lifeline to their dream. All Enterprise Holdings Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, leadership skills, character and commitment to community service, and all received financial assistance that made it possible for them to enroll at Washington University.
Each year, approximately half of the Enterprise Holdings scholarships are awarded to students based on the same criteria established for the university’s John B. Ervin Scholars Program, which seeks to expand the quality and diversity of the university’s student body.
Approximately 10 percent of the scholarships are reserved for St. Louis area high school graduates and community college transfer students.
“Our students come from diverse backgrounds, which in turn exposes them to new experiences and perspectives and gives them a crucial edge when they go out into the world to make their mark,” McLeod says.
“The university is committed to enrolling promising students from all economic, ethnic and social backgrounds to strengthen the educational environment for all, and achievement in this area will set Washington University apart from other research universities,” Wrighton says.
Founded in 1957, Enterprise Holdings is the most comprehensive service provider and only investment-grade company in the car rental industry, operating Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental, as well as its flagship Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand.
Its worldwide network includes more than 7,700 neighborhood and airport locations, with 6,000 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. The Alamo, Enterprise and National brands collectively lead the car rental industry with more than one-third of all airport business in the United States and Canada.