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Repaying 'Wee Favors'

Grace and Don Schmiedel

Grace and Don Schmiedel sort through old holiday cards at the UNLV Foundation. The UNLV Faculty Staff Holiday Card scholarship works to provide scholarships to deserving students.

For Grace and Don Schmiedel, the decision to support UNLV through an estate gift is based on more than just good financial sense. It's also an emotional choice that reaches deep into their personal values and experience.

Don is an emeritus professor of foreign languages. He and his wife, Grace, moved to Las Vegas from Ohio in 1965 when he began his UNLV teaching career. He retired in 1999.

Grace Schmiedel's eyes tear over as she describes what motivates her giving. "I could never have gone to college without scholarships," she says. Grace earned a master's degree from UNLV's College of Education in 1976 and taught kindergarten in the Clark County School District for 26 years.

As a faculty spouse, she was able to get her graduate degree free of charge through NSHE's fee waiver program.

"I call it the 'wee favor' program," she says with a smile. "But it made a big difference to me. Now I want to help pay back the education I was given."

The Schmiedels are doing just that through participation in UNLV's charitable gift annuity program. By establishing a charitable gift annuity (CGA), they are able to give back to the university and receive dependable payments for life. Their CGA may also help them qualify for a variety of tax benefits.

It's not just through mindful estate planning that the Schmiedels are supporting UNLV. For the past 50 years, they have both been active boosters of the UNLV Faculty Staff Holiday Card scholarship. The program was started by a handful of young and newly relocated faculty and staff in the 1960's.

"The idea was that rather than feel obligated to send a card to all of your colleagues, you'd send one holiday card to the Faculty Club for all," says Don. Along with cards, faculty and staff would include checks to donate to student scholarships. The Faculty Club would print one card recognizing all contributors and distribute it campus wide.

"Money started coming in, and the first year there was enough to award a half of a scholarship," Grace says. "In those days, that was about $300".

While tuition has increased ten-fold, the program continues today; the value of the endowed fund now tops $135,000. Over the past five decades dozens of students from across campus have received help from the Faculty Staff Holiday Card scholarship.

Current scholarship recipient Sarah Bame says that the scholarship helped ease her worries about the amount of student loan debt she was accumulating.

"Every little bit helps, and especially because I want to go on to pursue an advanced degree," says Bame, a criminal justice major. She plans to specialize in rehabilitation programs in corrections facilities.

During the Faculty Staff Holiday Card's 50-year history, notable local artists, faculty, and students have had a hand in creating the artwork for the card. Their unique holiday-themed illustrations and photos capture the spirit of the campus, the Southwest, and the times.

And some 50 years since they started the tradition, Grace and Don Schmiedel look back with fond memories.

"Those were the building days, when things were just getting going here," Don Schmiedel says while the couple sorts through some of the old holiday cards preserved at the UNLV Foundation.

"It is really great, this many years later, to see that the faculty and staff continue the tradition of giving."

Like the Schmiedels', you too can make an impact on our students and our future. To learn more about the different ways you can give, contact Bud Beekman at 702-895-2841 or

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the UNLV Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to the UNLV Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 4505 S. Maryland Parkway/Box 451006, Las Vegas, NV 89154-1006 , or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to UNLV or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to UNLV as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to UNLV as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and UNLV where you agree to make a gift to UNLV and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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