Generous Alum Taps His IRA to Boost Scholarship

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Grace Merritt

3 min read

Having grown up in Philadelphia with very limited resources, Curtis Tearte, JD ’78 felt lucky to have the chance to go to college, graduate school, and, ultimately, law school.

“I would never have been able to set foot in any of those institutions without financial aid assistance,” he says.

Tearte and his wife, Jylla, believe scholarships are vital to opening the door to college for many first-generation students.

“We often discuss how we can make a positive contribution to the personal and professional development of students to accelerate their access to opportunities,” he says. “Providing scholarships became our primary answer to that ever-challenging question.”

“The cost of a good education is a major hurdle for capable and competent students to pursue post-secondary education,” he adds. “Even if they are pursuing an education, they may have to work two or three jobs at the same time to support themselves, so they don’t experience the full benefit of professional and personal development while in college.”

That’s why the Teartes are so excited about providing scholarships for academic credit, global study programs, and unique immersion experiences for students.

Picture of Curtis and Jylla Tearte
Jylla Moore-Tearte and Curtis Tearte

The couple recently discovered that they could use their IRA to provide greater, sustainable funding to support their scholarships. They are using distributions from their IRA to maximize their scholarship that supports UConn law students. Their annual donations, made over five years, will increase the size of the scholarship. This ensures that it will keep supporting future generations of law students. Tearte says they learned about qualified charitable distributions from their IRA while reviewing their estate plans with their financial advisor.

In addition to creating the law school scholarship, Tearte donated to The Class of 1978 Scholarship, which was created by his law school class.

Law School Dean Eboni S. Nelson says she is grateful for Tearte’s longstanding generosity and leadership.

“We are immensely grateful for the Teartes’ support of scholarships at UConn Law,” Nelson says. “Because of their generosity, students will have access to an excellent, affordable, and transformative legal education for generations to come.”

The Teartes also provide other scholarships each year to underrepresented and first-generation students around the country through their private foundation, which partners with programs sponsored by community and education-engaged organizations. They created the foundation following Tearte’s retirement from a 33-year career as an IBM executive. The foundation has partnered with more than 15 organizations to support more than 260 students since it began 11 years ago.

In addition to managing the family foundation, Tearte, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, is active on several boards and community service organizations. He is a member of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors and serves on the Brandeis University Board of Trustees where he earned his undergraduate degree. He also dedicates time to the Charlotte Merchants Foundation Board.

Tearte urges other alums to explore ways to support students, whether it’s through an IRA, collaborative giving, a planned gift, or another financial vehicle.

“I would strongly advise that if individuals have an interest in financial tools to provide scholarships to schedule a discussion with a financial advisor and proceed from there,” he says. “We’re very proud to have found a special way to provide the gift of scholarships that will keep giving. That’s our story.”

Learn more about the advantages of giving through your IRA or contact Ron Fleury at [email protected] or (860) 816-4211.

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