Southern Oregon

Step-up Fund Helps Donor Provide Opportunities to Students

“Understanding what your true motivations are for your legacy is so important. I think the Oregon Community Foundation can help you articulate and understand that in a way that you might not even know could be possible.”

Kathleen Quinn

Kathleen Quinn spent her career in development, raising gifts for universities, including scholarships. With help from OCF, she recently set up her own scholarship fund to help students from Jackson and Josephine Counties attend public colleges and universities.

“I was lucky. I was born into a family of love and opportunity,” Kathleen recalls, “With six kids and a strong commitment to education, my parents budgeted for our schooling through high school. My mom was a volunteer at our church and schools. To give back was something I learned from a very early age. So this opportunity to help students who have great potential in their lives find a path is what matters.”

Kathleen financed her own education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She worked and took out student loans to cover the cost of in-state tuition at the public institution.

After launching her career in alumni relations and development at her alma mater, Kathleen went on to work at University of San Diego law school, San Jose State University and Stanford University. In 18 years at Stanford, she worked closely with trustees, donors, faculty, staff, and colleagues before retiring from her role as assistant vice president for development in 2018.

“The great joy of my work was connecting donors to things they were passionate about, and scholarships were a big part of that work,” Kathleen says.

Kathleen began coming to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with her late husband Michael, a retired attorney, about two decades ago. They realized Ashland would be a great place to retire when they sat in the members lounge and tallied their combined attendance at 160 productions around the world; in that moment they gave themselves the moniker of theatre geeks.

Since relocating to Ashland four years ago, they enjoyed a rich experience — getting involved with the festival, sponsoring productions, attending rehearsals and making new friends.

The move to Oregon prompted her and Michael to revisit their estate plan. Michael, recognizing Kathleen’s commitment to higher education, encouraged her to start a scholarship fund in her name.

“He remembered at San Jose State when we did a scholarship dinner, and this first-generation student was talking about what it meant for him to get a scholarship,” Kathleen recalls. “Michael turned to me and I was crying, because it meant so much to me.”

Kathleen and Michael on vacation in Italy.

Kathleen and Michael on vacation in Italy.

After considering scholarships for the four universities she’d been affiliated with, Kathleen decided on a broader approach as the best way to support students in need. Her fund will award scholarships to low-income students from Jackson and Josephine Counties who attend public universities or public colleges anywhere in the country.

When it came time to set up her fund, personal connections in the tight knit Southern Oregon community led Kathleen to OCF. “I’m not sure I would have thought of Oregon Community Foundation for the scholarship as easily if I hadn’t met Amy Cuddy through the Medford office and through our mutual friend,” Kathleen says.

“I told Kathleen she would not find a better place than OCF to dive right in and have an immediate and lasting impact on people’s lives in the valley,” Priscilla Weaver, the friend and OCF donor, recalls.

Kathleen says her contact with Amy over a period of a couple of years, and Amy’s guidance on a community project, won her over to OCF. “She just has such integrity and I trust her so much, that I knew if I called her and said ‘what’s possible?’ she would be straightforward and honest with me about whether what I wanted to do was something that the Oregon Community Foundation could do.” Kathleen says.

Kathleen worked with OCF to set up a “step-up” fund with an initial $5,000 gift in 2020. Additional contributions through 2022 will fully endow the fund and enable it to begin awarding scholarships in 2023. Kathleen’s estate plan includes a gift to augment the fund.

“The step-up fund helps us get it started and to be able to experience knowing that students are benefitting from the fund more quickly,” Kathleen says. “If we were to wait until we could truly afford to give the full fund, it would be so much further off that I did not want to wait. In my work, I always encouraged donors to give in their lifetime so they can learn about the individuals who will benefit from the gift. It is quite humbling and gives one hope for the future.” Now, Kathleen will be able to do the same.

The experience of working with OCF is one Kathleen can recommend wholeheartedly to anyone thinking about setting up their own fund. “It meets so many tests for me,” Kathleen says. “It is an institution that is highly regarded. It has a stable financial picture. It’s been around for a long time. It serves the community I care about, which is not just Ashland or the Rogue Valley, but is the state of Oregon.”