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Annual Day of Giving raises $2.3 million in support of the Culver Fund

Tom Coyne

April 14, 2023

Culver Academies alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and supporters united Thursday to donate $2,295,000 to the school during the annual Day of Giving Campaign.

“We appreciate how generous the Culver community is in supporting the school,” said Amy Wilson, Culver’s chief advancement officer. “Everyone is so passionate about the education Culver Academies provides.”

Most of the money donated during the sixth annual Day of Giving goes directly into the Culver Fund, which is the lifeblood of the school. The Culver Fund plays a vital role in the school’s ability to provide scholarships for Culver Academies and Culver Summer Schools and Camps.

A total of 2,152 people donated on Thursday, topping the goal of 1,897, a number selected to honor the year the first 16 horses of the Black Horse Troop arrived on campus.


Students from Culver Academies thank donors for contributing to the Day of Giving. (Photo by Andrew Crowell)

The fundraising effort this year included a “Launch the Ledbetter” challenge to raise money for a utility vehicle to launch the R.H. Ledbetter, a 65-foot, 25-ton ship that is the largest square-rigged vessel on fresh water in the world. The Ledbetter is also listed in the Tall Ships America registry.

The Ledbetter was absent from Lake Maxinkuckee last year because of environmental factors and aging equipment that was not suited to the ever-changing contours of the lake bottom.

The Culver Summer Schools Alumni Association committed $200,000 toward the vehicle and the Ledbetter Family pledged $150,000 toward the costs for the LUV and a new winter boathouse to safely store the ship.

The challenge raised $550,046 with 188 donors.

“The Ledbetter is an important part of Culver Summer Schools and Camps experience. Alumni want to ensure that today’s campers get to enjoy that,” Wilson said.

The total of $2.3 million raised Thursday topped last year’s total of $1.74 million.

Culver students spent part of the day Thursday calling donors to thank them for their generosity.

Ariel Hornek, a junior from Louisville, Kentucky, staffs the phone bank thanking people for contributing to the Day of Giving. (Photo by Andrew Crowell)

Ariel Hornek, a junior from Louisville, Kentucky, said she appreciated a chance to call because she probably wouldn’t be at Culver if she wasn’t on scholarship.

“Donors just make this school so much better,” she said. “The community here is amazing and the connections you have after you graduate are awesome. Those connections carry on years later.”

She said most of the people she talked with Thursday were appreciative.

“They say, ‘We love Culver.’ A lot of the donors have students at Culver and say they look forward to being here for Parents Weekend.”

Terrell Cooley, a second classman from South Holland, Illinois, said he was happy to personally thank people for giving.

“They’re helping to make the education I’m receiving here possible,” he said. “I just want to show my gratitude.”

Cooley, who is involved in theater, spoke to a donor who also was involved in theater while at Culver.

“It was nice to have that interaction. We were able to connect and share that love for Culver,” he said.  

Second classman Terrell Cooley from South Holland, Illinois, thanks a donor during the Day of Giving. (Photo by Andrew Crowell)

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