The Gift of Experience

SCU Trustee Jack Lewis and wife Carolyn are passionate about education for all. Their donation to the Miller Center will empower students working in disenfranchised communities.

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Jack and Carolyn Lewis have donated $5 million to the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. You can support Santa Clara University’s students here.  Photo by Nic Coury.

If you ask SCU trustee and philanthropist Jack Lewis, one of the greatest gifts a person can receive in their lifetime is an education. Lewis and his wife, Carolyn, have made it their life’s mission to give that gift to as many people as possible. Their latest contribution to the University—a $5 million gift to the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s fellowship program—will empower students working in disenfranchised communities around the world.

“We wanted to make a gift that would help endow the expenses of running the program so that it’s here forever,” says Jack, “because we think it’s really a significant part of both the Miller Center and the University.”

The gift is a capstone of a life of dedication to SCU, including more than 30 years serving on the Board of Trustees and shepherding Santa Clara’s budget. This gift ensures the Lewises’ legacy lives for generations to come, manifested through the work of students determined to use their education for social change. The gift will empower students like Jasmyn Burdsall ’20, a former Miller fellow and member of the Blackfoot tribe in Montana.

Burdsall worked virtually last summer with Uganda-based KadAfrica—an agricultural business and nonprofit that aims to empower marginalized populations through farming passion fruit—to develop a trauma management curriculum for its female clients. Stanford University named Burdsall a Knight-Hennessy scholar in 2020. There, she’ll earn a master’s degree in the university’s Community Health and Prevention Research program, where she will focus on reducing violence against women and helping them recover from trauma.

Not all Miller Center fellows will be superheroes or social justice titans. But, Lewis says, the experience will mold them all into something we desperately need: better world citizens. “These students that do this get a whole new perspective on what it’s like to suffer in the world and to have to bootstrap yourself up,” he says. “I think that’s an important life lesson.”

Join him in supporting SCU, donate here.

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