$4.25 Million Gift Uplifts Bay Area Students

by Sara Rinaldi, Office of Development Communications

A half-century relationship with the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation has resulted in a generous $4.25 million gift to the University of San Francisco. The majority of the gift will support students coming to USF from the nine counties of the Greater Bay Area. The remainder will go towards the School of Management’s Gellert Family Business Center to sustain the legacy and enhance the offerings of the Center founded in 2001.

A Bay Area Champion

The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation has been serving the Bay Area community and Catholic schools since 1958. USF received one of the first and largest gifts when Gellert initially formed the foundation.

Recently, the foundation has decided to sunset its operations. In the process, USF was selected to receive a significant share of the assets from the dissolution of the foundation. The $4.25 million will be added on top of their $2.02 million cumulative giving to the university.

Image of the Gellert foundation initial gifts
Early gifts from the Gellert Foundation.

USF alumni Jack Fitzpatrick ’65, Christine Whelan ’72, J. Malcolm Visbal ’52, Michael J. King ’71, and Robert J. Grassilli Jr. ’70 served together as members on the larger board of directors of the Gellert Foundation. The shared set of values between USF and the foundation has played a pivotal role in ensuring financial support for USF students.

“The foundation has been a longtime supporter backing the university’s efforts for several decades, and it has been steadfast in its investment in the Bay Area community. This generous gift culminates our wonderful partnership over the years. The foundation has been a strong advocate for access to Jesuit education and support for family businesses, and I’m thrilled that we have been able to advance these common goals,” said Fr. Paul Fitzgerald.

First in the Family

For the past 40 years, generous scholarship funding from the Gellert foundation has enabled many first-generation students to access the life-changing opportunity of a Jesuit education. Nearly 32% of USF students identify as first-generation to college. Since 2014, the Gellert Foundation and USF have been able to award over 37 first-generation students with scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 apiece.

“The Gellert scholarship means a lot to me because being a first-generation college student is daunting. The odds seemed against me. This scholarship makes my dreams of obtaining higher education possible. My parents (who never had the same opportunities) are extremely proud, and I am paving my way for a bright future and that is truly priceless.” Ceejay Garcia ‘20.

To keep Jesuit education accessible for first-generation students, $3.75 million of the recent gift will go to establishing the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Family Business Leadership

Over the past two decades, USF’s Gellert Family Business Center (the Center) has become a go-to resource hub. The Center supports family businesses with their transition needs and provides support for businesses’ long-term success by facilitating access to critical business resources, hosting networking events, and advancing the field of family business through research and education.

The remaining $500,000 of the Gellert foundation’s most recent gift will go to sustaining the legacy and continuity of the Center, which will allow sliding scale subsidies on membership dues and program tuition payments for qualifying small and medium-sized businesses.

“This new endowment will allow the Center to continue to advance scholarly, creative and community-focused activities that sustain and aid in the continuity of families-in-business as well as the growth of the next generation of family firm leaders. I know our founding director, Dr. Eugene Muscat, is somewhere smiling down because he knows this gift will build upon and advance what he started.” Monika Hudson, EdD, Director, Gellert Family Business Center

The $4.25 million gift will ensure that both the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Gellert Family Business Center will continue in perpetuity leaving a legacy of the foundation’s generosity.

Learn more about the Gellert Family Business Center.