News icon Giving Because Scholars Need More Than Money to Thrive in Higher Education

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Ask most donors why they choose to support the Mitchell Institute, and you’ll hear a heartwarming refrain: helping hardworking, bright, young people in Maine afford a college education and reach their potential is a truly satisfying way to invest in the state’s future.

The same is true for Dr. Malcolm “Mac” Rogers, who, along with his wife, Sue, gives generously to support Mitchell Scholars. But Mac, a retired psychiatrist who spent the latter part of his career treating veterans through Maine’s VA system, has another compelling reason for choosing to give: an appreciation for the wraparound supports the Institute offers Scholars.

“I saw a lot of young Maine people coming back to try to continue their education, and they did it with the help of the GI Bill,” said Mac of his work with veterans. “I also saw a lot of people for whom going to college was not an obvious or easy experience. They needed a lot of support when they came back. So, I have come to appreciate that the Mitchell Institute provides both financial support and community and psychological support to help Scholars succeed.”

Beyond giving to fund the Institute’s ability to offer programming such as MILE I Weekend, which enhances Scholars’ sense of community, and MILE II, which advances their professional development, Mac serves on the Senator’s Circle, an advisory group that helps steer the organization. And it’s through this service that he has come to directly provide some Scholars with invaluable career assistance.

One especially satisfying encounter with a Scholar involved helping them find a summer internship.

“The Scholars referred to me by Institute staff have had an interest in either psychology or psychiatry, and in one case the connection had to do with helping them find an internship, particularly in research programs,” said Mac, who called upon people within his own professional network. “There were some people I could identify in the student’s geographical area who might have an interest in mentoring. So, I helped make an introduction.”

Helping Scholars find their way has been deeply gratifying.

“One of the students recently completed a very positive internship experience and took the time to write me about it,” he said. “That was greatly appreciated. As people who want to help Scholars, we need the feedback and encouragement.”

Mac and Sue have found that giving to the Mitchell Institute also has provided them with a significant financial benefit — reducing their taxable income in retirement. To realize the opportunity to lower their tax burden, they choose to make contributions through an IRA, leveraging the Qualified Charitable Distribution provision of the federal tax code. This involves directing an otherwise taxable Required Minimum Distribution from an IRA — at age 70 ½ or older — to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity, in this case, the Mitchell Institute. The gift is a direct transfer from the IRA that never passes through the hands of the IRA holder, thus avoiding income taxes.

Giving through the Qualified Charitable Distribution provision is a classic win-win situation: donors enjoy a reduced tax burden in retirement while at the same time funding 501(c)(3) organizations whose work supports their values.

“We have been doing it for five or six years now,” he said. “But we wouldn’t have known about the benefits if it hadn’t been for our financial advisor.”

As for why the Mitchell Institute is among their philanthropic priorities, Mac cited the organization’s geographic reach and impact.

“The fact that it touches every community in the state is very important,” he said. “In many cases, the Scholars are students who might not otherwise have the resources to go to college or the support to succeed. I think for anyone who has children and grandchildren, you are kind of naturally inclined to want to support the next generation.”

His involvement with the Institute and Scholars also has prompted some reflection.

“It has caused me to consider some experiences I’ve had when I got a big boost from having someone, usually a faculty member, find a way to let me know that I would be a valuable and successful person. Whenever that has happened, it has counted for a lot,” he said. “For Mitchell Scholars who might be the first in their family to go to college, I can imagine that it’s even more meaningful to have someone communicate that there is something worthy about them — and that people believe in them.”

For information about how you can leverage the Qualified Charitable Distribution clause, contact your financial advisor or Jared Cash, President and CEO of the Mitchell Institute.