How can a small liberal arts college nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains cover the cost of tuition for every student for nearly 130 years?
Berea College does it through fundraising and with gifts from alumni and friends, like its charitable gift annuity. Such gifts provide the donor with fixed payments—based on their age—for the rest of their life, while allowing the College to invest in its exceptional students and their education.
Berea College was borne of the improbable vision of the Reverend John G. Fee in pre-Civil War America. Born into a slave-holding Kentucky family, Fee rebuffed the belief in the institution of slavery, embraced the ministry, and grew into an ardent abolitionist guided by Acts 17:26—God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth. With the support of his wife, Matilda, and several other abolitionists, Fee established the first interracial and coeducational college in the South in 1855. Blacks and whites, women and men—all of limited means—would live and learn together as equals.
Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History;” Mary Britton, a suffragist and the first female doctor in Lexington, Kentucky; Nobel Prize winner John Fenn (chemistry); Juanita Kreps, the first female U.S. Secretary of Commerce; and Jack Roush, a trailblazer in auto racing and a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, are among the notable alumnus to graduate from Berea.
Throughout its 165-year history, Berea has overcome social and legal challenges that struck at the heart of its very existence, emerging as one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges—where students work up to 20 hours a week in more than 120 jobs across campus.
Today, Berea provides an exceptional educational experience to students of high promise but low wealth. The average annual family income of our students is about $30,000. Rooted in the liberal arts tradition of developing the “whole person,” Berea is grounded by its inclusive Christian values and an enduring commitment to the dignity of labor, racial equity, gender equality, sustainable living and the Appalachian region. Those commitments converge at a college like no other, where no student has paid tuition since 1892. This allows nearly half of our students to graduate with no student loan debt at all.
Learn more about our charitable gift annuity and other planned giving products so you can achieve the return of a lifetime.
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