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South Dakota Entrepreneur & Philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford Gifts $30 Million to the Horatio Alger Association Endowment – Its Largest Single Gift Ever Received

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, January 30, 2018/Categories: Students, College of Business and Natural Sciences, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, Donations, Faculty, President, Staff, 2018

Comment from Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., Black Hills State University President:
“Black Hills State University is tremendously appreciative for T. Denny Sanford’s generosity with this scholarship donation. By investing in the power of education and inspiring students to pursue and earn their degree, T. Denny Sanford is continuing to make a profound difference for the state, region and nation. “


South Dakota Entrepreneur & Philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford Gifts $30 Million to the Horatio Alger Association Endowment – Its Largest Single Gift Ever Received

A 2016 Horatio Alger Member, Mr. Sanford’s generosity will benefit 12 universities, including seven in South Dakota

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 scholarship – for the next ten years – to Horatio Alger Scholars choosing to attend any of the 12 universities selected by Mr. Sanford, including seven in South Dakota. These universities will receive a scholarship allocation of either $250,000 or $150,000 per year based on current enrollment served.

The South Dakota-based universities receiving support from the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program are:

• University of South Dakota ($250,000/year)
• South Dakota State University ($250,000/year)
• Augustana University ($150,000/year)
• University of Sioux Falls ($150,000/year)
• Dakota State University ($150,000/year)
• South Dakota School of Mines ($150,000/year)
• Black Hills State University ($150,000/year)


Additional universities receiving support from the Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program are:

• University of Minnesota ($250,000/year)
• University of California at San Diego ($250,000/year)
• National University ($250,000/year)
• Long Island University ($250,000/year)
• Arizona State University ($250,000/year)

“Denny Sanford’s commitment to higher education and helping young men and women achieve success is storied in American philanthropy,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “We are deeply grateful to Denny for making the decision to support the Horatio Alger Association in such an extraordinary way. The new scholarship program that bears his name is a reminder that through hard work, perseverance and a belief in one’s self, all things are possible.”

“I have always measured success by how much I can do for others to improve their lives,” said Mr. Sanford. “The mission of Horatio Alger Association is rooted in that philosophy and I am proud to support our Scholars in this important way. I have been lucky to have been profoundly affected by exceptional, forward-thinking universities – in South Dakota and across the United States – and I wanted to pay tribute to their good work through this new Association scholarship fund. I have every confidence that the Horatio Alger Scholars who choose to attend any of these 12 universities will have their lives transformed for the better.”

The Horatio Alger-Denny Sanford Scholarship Program will benefit Horatio 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 Association 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 $125 million to students in need. Scholarships are funded solely through the generosity of Association Members, Life Partners and friends.

“Denny Sanford reflects the abiding power of the American Dream,” said Terrence J. Giroux, Executive Director, Horatio Alger Association. “He has long spoken of the importance of sustaining this dream for future generations and with this gift, he helps the Association to do exactly that. The impact that this will have on deserving students, especially those who might choose to attend one of seven universities in South Dakota, cannot be overstated. We thank Denny for his generous commitment and for connecting the Association to these outstanding collegiate partners.”

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. He 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. In 2014, Mr. Sanford donated $25 million to create Build Dakota, a scholarship program that provides students with an education by allowing them to give back in post-graduate service to a sponsoring company. 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. Mr. Sanford has received 44 awards from various nonprofits. Additionally, Mr. Sanford funds ongoing research of breast cancer, Type 1 diabetes and stem cell programs.

For more information regarding Mr. Sanford’s landmark gift to the Horatio Alger Association, please visit For more information about the 71st Annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies and the New Member Class of 2018, please visit or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #HoratioAlgerAward.


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 and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $125 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit

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