GW alumnus Gilbert Cisneros always planned to give a substantial contribution to the University, he just didn’t know when.
Then he hit the jackpot. Literally.
After a $266 million lottery win in May, Cisneros offered the University a chunk of the change, more than $1 million, to fund financial aid to deserving GW students.
“My wife, Jacki, and I believe that an education is very important, which is why we also made a similar donation to her alma mater, USC, and most of our donations have been geared towards scholarship programs,” Cisneros, who graduated in 1994, said.
The $1.1 million donation to the University will go toward financial aid, one of the most popular areas for people to donate to at the University, according to a news release. Cisneros’ gift will put $1 million toward the Power & Promise Fund for financial aid, creating the Cisneros Scholarship Fund.
Two incoming freshmen will be given $25,000 a year for the four years they attend GW. The scholarship is designed to support Hispanic students from Cisneros’ home state of California who are studying political science, his major at GW.
“GW is a very diverse university, but I think it can do better at attracting minority students from other parts of the country,” said Cisneros, who is Hispanic.
The Cisneros’ also pledged $100,000 to the Yellow Ribbon Program, which supports active duty veterans by combining funds from both the University and the Department of Veteran Affairs to cover tuition expenses.
Cisneros received a Navy ROTC scholarship from GW.
“It’s not uncommon to receive gifts of $1 million and higher, although I suspect it’s our first to result from a lottery win,” Patricia Danver, a spokeswoman for the development office, said.
The lottery winners also separately donated an undisclosed amount to the Newman Catholic Student Center on campus.
Cisneros’ presence at GW is not limited to the financial aid fund. He has also joined the Dean’s Advisory Council on Arts and Sciences, which works with Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt to address topics affecting growth and development, according to the release.
“My plan is to hopefully keep pushing for minority recruitment of students, and to hopefully make GW a recognizable name throughout the Western United States as it is on the East Coast,” Cisneros said.