Campus Gates

SIPA Student Support Initiative

Broaden your impact

With your participation, SIPA can provide increased funding to more students, attracting the best and brightest candidates from across the globe, improving their educational experiences, furthering their careers, and ultimately, creating a better world for all, now and in the future.

Greater Access, More Opportunity

In 2021, Columbia University announced a four-year, $1.4 billion commitment to increase student financial aid across the University. As part of that commitment, SIPA launched the Columbia SIPA Student Support Initiative – an effort to make a SIPA education more accessible by offering critical financial aid to our most promising students. 

SIPA’s talented applicants are both highly diverse and remarkably similar. They all come to SIPA with a common drive to excel, aspiring to both understand and shape the world by engaging with global public policy issues.

We need to do more to meet their commitment, especially with an eye to providing greater access. Our surveys indicate that, even when SIPA is their first choice, our top applicants often end up choosing to attend peer institutions that, because of more robust endowments, can offer more generous financial aid packages.

By increasing financial aid resources, together we will help make sure that the best students choose SIPA, allowing us to recruit top talent and ensuring diversity in our student and alumni community.

The SIPA Opportunity Challenge

UN Women Student

To encourage participation, the University and SIPA committed $7 million in matching funds to double the impact of the SIPA Opportunity Challenge. As of January 2024, $5 million in matching funds are still available, and all of the matching funds need to be secured by December 31, 2024. We are looking to our loyal alumni and donor community to seize on this opportunity to increase the financial aid available to our students.

This is a game-changing opportunity for SIPA. By matching endowed fellowship gifts dollar-for-dollar, the Challenge offers a unique opportunity to multiply the impact of your philanthropy and help transform SIPA’s ability to award critical financial aid to deserving students – now, and in the future.

How The Challenge Works

Fellowship funds can be either endowed or current use, and both fund types offer distinct benefits. Endowed fellowship funds are permanently invested, increase in value over time, and provide long-term impact for generations to come, while current use fellowship funds are spent in their entirety and offer students immediate impact.

To get the maximum benefit for our students, the SIPA Opportunity Challenge is designed to encourage “blended gifts” that include both endowed and current use funds. Under the Challenge, donors who make a blended gift to create a new fellowship will receive a dollar-for-dollar, 1:1 match for the endowed portion of their gift.

For example, a minimum gift of $150,000, payable in up to five years ($125,000 endowed; $25,000 current use) will receive $125,000 in matching funds, doubling the value of the endowed fund. While the endowed fund is building to its full level, the current use fund will be granted to students annually as a named fellowship award, and the capital growth from the endowed gift will be reinvested in the endowment.  

Donors who include SIPA in their estate plans at a minimum level of $500,000 (present value) will receive a $100,000 match to endow a fellowship now, or to add to an existing fellowship fund.

Also, if you have previously endowed a fellowship at SIPA, you can enhance it with an added gift between $125,000 and $1 million (payable in up to five years) and your contribution will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. Endowed gifts by corporations and foundations as well as joint gifts by multiple donors are also eligible.

Columbia SIPA

How You Can Help

By participating in SIPA’s Student Support Initiative, you are empowering SIPA students, strengthening the School, and changing the world.

In order to achieve long-term impact, SIPA’s top priority is to increase the number of endowed fellowships we can offer our students. In addition, to achieve immediate impact, we also are eager to build our reserves of current use fellowships and unrestricted annual gifts for financial aid.

Gifts of all amounts make a difference and are deeply appreciated. Here’s how you can participate.

Endow a Fellowship

Endowing a named fellowship is one of the most influential and meaningful gifts our donors can make. Such a gift furthers SIPA’s mission while making a life-changing impact on the student recipient and creating a lasting bond between the donor and the School.

Endowed funds can be named for the donor or a person whom the donor chooses. The gift can be made outright or pledged over up to five years. Endowed funds are permanently invested, with a share of the fund (typically around 5%, as set by the Trustees) available each year to support financial aid.

As the invested fund grows in value over time, the amount of the annual funding available for financial aid will also increase.

Create a Current Use Fellowship

Current use fellowships are spent in their entirety and provide immediate, meaningful impact for SIPA students by helping to offset tuition costs. 

Create Your Legacy Through a Planned Gift

Including SIPA in your estate plans is a forward-thinking way to honor your legacy and provide an enduring future for our School and our students. Learn more. 

Give to the SIPA Annual Fund

Meet a critical, immediate need for financial aid by designating your annual gift to the SIPA Student Financial Assistance Fund. The collective impact of annual gifts from many donors helps us bridge the financial aid funding gap, and makes a meaningful difference to SIPA students.

Photo of Grace Frisone

“I happen to be the first college graduate in my family, and I needed financial assistance. I received graduate assistance at Columbia, making it possible for me to attend and graduate. I want other young people to have that chance.”

— Grace Frisone MIA ’76

Photo of Lucia Diaz Martin

“I'm so grateful for the incredibly generous support of my education at SIPA. My family immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador, and the fellowship I received was so important for someone with my background to be able to access these opportunities.”

— Lucia Diaz-Martin MPA '17

Photo of Desmond Lee

“Fellowship support has given me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the SIPA community and is helping me to reach my dreams.”

— Desmond Lee MPA ’22

To learn more, please contact Michael Roberts, Executive Director, Development and Alumni Relations, Columbia SIPA, at [email protected].