Changing Lives Challenge

On the eve of its 175th anniversary, Punahou received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor to support financial aid. It is one of the most significant philanthropic contributions in the School’s history, and certainly the largest ever made outside a capital building campaign.

The Changing Lives Challenge inspired so much generosity that it has been renewed: $1.6 million a year will be matched by an extraordinarily generous donor. A total of $8 million is available to match gifts to endowed financial aid funds at Punahou.

Here’s how it works:
  • Your gift or pledge of $25,000 or more to a new or existing endowed financial aid fund will be matched, dollar for dollar, maximizing your impact.
  • Named financial aid funds are a meaningful way to honor individuals who have been inspirational in your life.
  • Gifts may be pledged and paid off over multiple years

“This gift marks a milestone in our efforts to make Punahou accessible to more children with the talent and passion to thrive here,” says President Jim Scott ’70, who has made financial aid a priority during his administration. “Financial aid is a key mechanism for cultivating the diverse learning community that will prepare all of our students for the changing realities of the global century, in which core skills like critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving and social engagement are fostered by the ability to leverage multiple voices and perspectives.”

The gift will be used primarily to build and inspire philanthropic support for Punahou’s financial aid endowment. It has already produced dramatic results and demonstrated the School community’s enthusiasm for this goal. In the spring of 2015, the donor agreed to earmark $1.5 million to launch the Changing Lives Challenge, which matched gifts of $25,000 or more, dollar for dollar, from other donors.

Dozens stepped up to establish new endowed financial aid funds or significantly expand existing funds, many of which honor individuals or families in the Punahou community. Between January and June of 2015, $2.4 million was matched by the challenge to support financial aid, surpassing the original goal by nearly a million dollars. A total of $8 million from the gift will be designated to the Changing Lives Challenge, which continues to strengthen the future of financial aid at Punahou.

“By supporting the School’s restricted endowment, this philanthropic ripple effect ensures that funds for financial aid are secured for the near and far future,” notes Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kathryn Nelson. “Building Punahou’s endowment is a key priority, as this is a financial resource that allows the School to plan strategically and articulate more ambitious long-term goals.”

The donor of the $10 million gift is deeply committed to the concept that diversity of thought can best be achieved through a strong commitment to access, and her gift is a powerful affirmation of Punahou’s aspirations. As an alumna whose life was shaped by Punahou, she understands the far-reaching effect a school like this can have in the broader community.

“We are honored and deeply grateful for this generous investment in Punahou’s mission and vision,” says Scott. “This is much more than a gift; it is a fundamental partnership that will transform thousands of children’s lives and help the School realize its potential as an educational thought leader locally, nationally and globally.”

Holly Paulson ’87 Sereni
Director of Leadership and Campaign Giving

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