Koe family doubles their impact through Grainger Matching Challenge
Scholarships created by Illinois alumni have long helped students fulfill their educational dreams. MechSE alumnus Bruce Koe (BSME ’66) and his wife Linda (BS, LAS ’65), have turned to philanthropy to make college more affordable for students and to attract what is now the most diverse and most qualified classes of students in the history of the College of Engineering.
In 2001, the Koes established the Kirkwood Scholarship for Women in Engineering, named after Linda’s grandmother, Flossie Kirkwood Massock. Flossie, born in 1892, was not an engineer. She was, however, one of the first women graduates of Bradley University and a trailblazer in her day. The scholarship is intended to motivate women in engineering to finish their degrees, and over the years, it has helped 22 women graduate from Illinois.
“Since we have retired, Linda and I have focused our efforts on supporting three of our passions: women in engineering, feeding the hungry, and helping immigrants to sustainability. We decided that rather than go on cruises or such that we wanted to give back. And we hope to be an example of giving back to our children, grandchildren and others … and inspire them to reach out and help others,” said Bruce.
This year, thanks to the Grainger Engineering Visionary Scholarship Matching Challenge, the Koes’ contribution to their scholarship fund was doubled. Now through the end of 2019, The Grainger Foundation will match all donations made to the college’s Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25 million. The matching challenge means the Koes’ Kirkwood Scholarship could offer support to even more women in engineering.
Witnessing the accomplishments of the women engineers who have benefited from their scholarship gives the Koes a great deal of personal satisfaction.
“We feel that each of us is called to give as we are able out of the many blessings we have received. In many ways it is we who have been blessed. It gives us a great deal of personal satisfaction to help immigrants, see the number of families we feed, and witness the accomplishments of the women engineers we have supported over the years … many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. Some of the [Kirkwood Scholar] graduates are already giving back to the university and some are now helping their siblings receive a college education. So the circle of giving goes on,” the couple said.