YDS donor support rebounds strongly in 2020-21

A nearly 31 percent jump in gifts, including substantial new support for the Living Village. A significant increase in dollars given for the Annual Fund. Twelve new endowed scholarship funds. And major progress closing the gap between student tuition need and the amount provided through financial aid.

Such were the highlights of the 2020-21 giving year, in which the greater YDS community rallied strongly despite the disruptions of COVID-19 and took a strong stand for the Divinity School’s students and mission.

“In all my years in academia, I have never experienced a year like 2020-2021,” YDS Dean Greg Sterling said. “But thanks in large part to our supporters, we continued to fulfill our mission, fostering knowledge and love of God and serving the church and world—by educating future leaders of churches and communities, by providing valuable resources to ministers and congregations, and by bringing a voice of informed, prophetic theology to a society where such voices are badly needed and sorely lacking.”

“None of what we do is possible without our donors,” Sterling added. “To all of them I send my deepest gratitude.”

Gifts and pledge payments to all partners on the Quad totaled $9,759,704 in fiscal year 2021, a 30.9% increase over the previous fiscal year.

Two classes—1961 and 1970—went the extra mile. The Class of 1961 added $52,545 to their class scholarship fund started during their 50th reunion in 2011. The Class of 1970, in honor of their 50th reunion, raised $77,401 to endow a new scholarship. The class’s Annual Fund total of $32,310 was nearly three times greater than their previous high of $12,553 in FY2018. Both class scholarship funds will be supplemented with matching funds from the Dean’s Scholarship Challenge to increase the financial aid support to YDS students.

Through new gifts and commitments, the Divinity School moved significantly closer to the $43 million needed to break ground on Phase One of the Living Village, a history-making sustainable-building project that will provide below-market-rate housing for 150 students when all phases are completed. Learn more about the Living Village.

Giving to the YDS Annual Fund totaled $630,758 in FY21, a 4 percent increase over the FY20 total. The average Annual Fund gift of $416 has an endowment equivalency of roughly $8,320—a figure representing how much endowment it takes to create an annual payout of a given amount.

As in other recent years, YDS is third among Yale graduate and professional schools in the percentage of alumni who give to the Annual Fund.

“We cannot stress enough how vital the Annual Fund is to our ability to meet students’ needs and provide a broad, sturdy platform for the overall giving program at YDS,” said Barbara Sabia, Senior Director of Alumni Engagement and Development. “Our annual giving program engages a broad segment of our alumni and friends community, and funds from it go directly to meeting student needs. Students are the grateful recipients of every contribution made to the Annual Fund.”

YDS supporters endowed 12 new scholarships in fiscal 2021, further securing the Divinity School’s future ability to educate leaders of congregations and communities.

Gifts received in 2020-21 brought YDS tantalizingly close to fulfillment of the School’s top-priority goal of meeting the full tuition costs of students with financial need. Donor support has enabled YDS to double the standard financial aid award over the past eight years, from $12,500 in 2013-14 to $25,000 in 2021-22. Students receiving the standard financial aid package are now responsible for less than $1,500 per year in tuition for their YDS education—approximately $8,400 less than students paid in 2013-14. Roughly 93 percent of YDS students receive financial aid.

“This donor support is helping us free students to pursue their callings and careers without having to downsize their aspirations because of debt and other financial constraints,” Sterling said. “This is a major way that YDS can better fulfill our longstanding mission: by equipping and empowering students to serve and lead the communities where they find themselves after YDS.” 

Watch the donor thank-you video and read top giving stories from 2020-21.

September 22, 2021