In 2012, The Annexstad Family Foundation initiated collaborations with a select group of colleges and universities as part of the launch of the Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) National Scholarship program. As a member of that group, Washington University in St. Louis provided an opportunity for the Foundation to support talented undergraduates in the Midwest who exhibit key characteristics of servant leadership.
WashU has provided avenues for exploration, service and impact for students who are highly intelligent, dedicated and well-rounded. The university awards The Annexstad Family Foundation’s Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarship to two incoming first-year students each year. These Scholars have their full cost of attendance met, enabling them to graduate in four to five years with little or no debt.
LFT Scholars meet twice annually with a Foundation representative and connect with fellow recipients. During these visits, they interact with WashU leadership in various administrative and academic departments, developing relationships and further engaging with the WashU community. These connections have led to friendships, mentorships and service opportunities.
One recent graduating Scholar, Mykyta Stokalyuk, ’21, earned a degree in Economics says, “The Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship was integral to my ability to pursue the subject I always wanted to study. With my degree, I will enter the sphere of business analytics and make an impact on company-wide decision-making using data science. I have grown more confident in my abilities and I hope to support people who are going through the same journey with personal and career mentorship.”
To ensure that students like Stokalyuk can follow their passions and interests, WashU leads initiatives dedicated to increasing student access including the Gateway to Success. In October 2021, WashU made a historic $1 billion investment in financial aid for students. These resources allowed the university to adopt a need-blind admissions policy, effectively eliminating any consideration of applicants’ financial status as part of the admissions process. Made possible by an extraordinary 65% return on the university’s Managed Endowment Pool for the 2020-21 fiscal year, WashU directed $800 million in endowed funding toward need-blind undergraduate admissions and the remaining $200 million toward financial aid for graduate and professional students across the university’s seven schools. The Class of 2026 will be the first group of undergraduate students admitted under the new policy.
Other initiatives include the WashU Pledge, announced by Chancellor Andrew D. Martin in his 2019 inaugural address. The WashU Pledge provides a free undergraduate education to incoming full-time students from Missouri and southern Illinois who are Pell Grant-eligible or who come from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less. WashU leaders have extended the university’s test-optional policy for the 2021-22 admissions cycle and eliminated any consideration of campus visits and other displays of so-called “demonstrated interest” – both moves that reduce costs and break down barriers to access.
In the past 10 years, The Annexstad Family Foundation has awarded 20 LFT Scholarships at WashU, where the program has a graduation rate of 100%. In 2022, WashU will welcome the 21st and 22nd LFT recipients to join the cohort.
The future is bright for LFT Scholars and Alumni. One LFT Graduate, Andrea Chambers, ’21, earned both her bachelor’s degree in International and Area Studies and her master’s degree in Public Health through the Brown School at WashU. The school’s 3-2 program allows students to graduate with dual degrees in five years. Chambers shares, “WashU and the Annexstads have allowed me to receive a great education, build lifelong friendships and volunteer, all of which have opened a world of opportunities! With my degree, I aspire to work as a public health practitioner in the policy field and advocate for policies that improve affordable health care access for low-socioeconomic status communities.”