Personal Giving Stories


Higher Income Benefits UIS Donor

Photo of Mary Caroline Mitchell.“Being philanthropic to universities is just part of who I am,” says Mary Caroline Mitchell, and given her family history, it’s no wonder.

  • During the Civil War her great-grandmother attended what is now Miami University.
  • At the turn of the century her grandmother attended Wellesley. 
  • During the Depression her mother graduated from Rice University. 
  • Mary Caroline graduated from a college in Texas before earning her master’s degree at a seminary in Pittsburgh.

“I was raised with a strong belief in the power of an education to change a person’s life,” Mary Caroline says. As a consequence she recently created a University of Illinois Foundation charitable gift annuity (CGA) with UIS as the beneficiary. According to Mary Caroline, a CGA is “perfect” for anyone who intends to leave money to an institution anyway but needs an income in the meantime.

Eventually, her gift will create scholarships for students in Human Services at UIS, who, she points out, “accumulate as much debt in college as someone going into accounting or computer science but end up with a lot less ability to pay those loans off.”

Mary Caroline has personally had a significant impact helping others by organizing and mobilizing people to make a difference in someone’s life. This includes:

  • In 1979, she was a founder of Refugee One, an agency that now helps 300 to 500 refugees each year build new lives in the United States.
  • In the early ’90s, she organized the Caregiver Interfaith Volunteer Services with St. John’s Hospital’s Third-Age Living, assisting older adults so they are able to stay in their homes. 
  • At Lincoln Land Community College, she worked with both the Academy of Life Long Learning (with 800 to 900 individuals currently in the program) and the LLCC Volunteer Center.
  • In 2001 she became the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at UIS, where she developed alumni outreach and engagement programs. This included the Alumni SAGE Society and its popular Lunch and Learn Series, an alumni oral history program and the annual brunch for graduating online students.

“I experienced the small classes and personal attention from professors you receive at UIS,” she says. “In my alumni work I became more and more impressed with the difference that UIS graduates were making in their communities,” she adds. Mary Caroline retired in 2011.

Mary Caroline feels very comfortable setting up her CGA with the University of Illinois Foundation because their investments are so solid. “The Foundation has the top minds of finance in the country on their board, people who are donors themselves and who are very interested in the health of the University,” she observes.

She now recommends a CGA with the Foundation to all her friends. “I really don’t feel like I have given up anything,” she says, “because I am the one getting an income and tax savings on top of that. It’s a fantastic deal,” Mary Caroline concludes.


The U of I Foundation gift planning staff is pleased to answer your questions and offer assistance at any time. Please contact the Foundation to learn more.



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