Michelle ’88 and Todd Steudtner ’87 have consistently donated to Texas A&M University since graduating, but they never dreamed they would have the financial resources to fund endowed scholarships during their lifetimes. However, the Plano couple was pleasantly surprised to learn that they could afford to create scholarships by tapping into their employers’ gift-matching programs.
Many organizations offer these types of programs as a way to encourage charitable giving without significantly reducing the employee’s assets. Gift-matching programs add financial value by matching a gift dollar for dollar (and in some cases, by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the gift value). “We feel fortunate to work for companies that offer these types of programs so we can leverage funds to make a bigger impact than we could alone,” Michelle said.
Tapping into matching gift funds offers an easy and significant way to support Texas A&M’s programs, faculty and students. In fiscal year 2017 alone, organizations matched 1,374 gifts to the Texas A&M Foundation for a total of $2.7 million.
Michelle and Todd decided in 2017 to establish their first endowed engineering scholarship of $70,000. The couple made an initial gift of $5,000 and pledged to fulfill their portion of the gift over a five-year period. They then worked with the Texas A&M Foundation staff to utilize the matching programs at their respective employers, PepsiCo and Texas Instruments. Each company currently provides a one-for-one match of the Steudtners’ annual gift. By leveraging both companies, the Steudtners are doubling their annual gift.
The Steudtners also decided to make an additional gift of $1,000, which allowed their scholarship to be awarded to an undergraduate engineering student immediately, during the 2017-18 academic year. “We wanted to get engaged with students so we can create a type of extended family,” Todd said. “Our first scholarship recipient was so excited to meet us that she even took selfies with us! It was just a wonderful experience.”
The couple found the Texas A&M Foundation’s process so affordable and effortless that they committed to creating a second scholarship of $50,000 in 2018. This gift, which again uses their employers’ matching funds programs, will support undergraduate students seeking a degree in information and operations management in Mays Business School.
Strong Ties to Aggieland
Hailing from different parts of the Lone Star State, Michelle and Todd found an academic home, a host of friends and each other while in Aggieland.
Michelle, who grew up in Houston, comes from a family with deep Texas A&M roots. She decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business analysis so she could use her talent with numbers to analyze processes that support business infrastructure.
In comparison, Todd was the first in his family to attend Texas A&M. “When I first visited the university, I knew it was the place for me and I would get a great education,” said the Richardson native, who majored in electrical engineering.
Like most Aggies, the couple took part in many campus activities and events. “We loved going to football games, basketball games and Yell Practice. We really embraced the traditions, because that’s what makes Texas A&M a special place,” said Michelle, who is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority. “It’s that feeling you get every time you drive back into town that says, ‘Okay, I’m home!’”
Starting a Career and a Family in Big D
As they neared graduation, the couple found that their Texas A&M degrees would serve them well as they entered the job market. “We both got really good educations,” Michelle said. “Also, the types of employers who came to campus to interview and the types of jobs that we had the opportunity to apply for were top-notch.”
Because they wanted to marry and start a family, both Todd and Michelle sought jobs in the Dallas area. After interviewing with a variety of oil companies and semiconductor companies, Todd accepted a position at Texas Instruments. He has remained with the company throughout his career and now holds the title of high voltage electrical team manager.
Michelle initially worked at Anderson Consulting, where she built a diverse portfolio of experiences. In 2005, she wanted to find a job that required less travel so she could spend more time with the couple’s elementary-age daughters. Thanks to her Texas A&M degree and professional networks, Michelle joined PepsiCo, which has offices located less than five miles from the Steudtners’ home. Michelle now serves as the IT senior director for the company’s North American Beverage and North American Nutrition divisions.
Finding Ways to Help Others Succeed
As their daughters head to college and family demands decrease, the Steudtners are identifying ways to support the next generation. The couple is involved with The Warren Center, a nonprofit in Richardson that provides services for children with disabilities from birth to age 5 and their families. Todd led the center’s capital campaign and serves on the organization’s board.
Their involvement at Texas A&M will continue to grow, especially since their youngest daughter will enroll as an architecture major this fall. Michelle receives invitations to speak to Mays classes and the university’s honors program. Todd regularly returns to the College of Engineering to recruit for full-time positions and internships at Texas Instruments.
The Steudtners count their gifts to Texas A&M University as another way to deepen this connection. “It’s really cool that the Foundation and our companies have provided us with an avenue to renew our passion for Texas A&M,” Todd said. “We’re thrilled to support what we’re passionate about and utilize our matching funds so we can maximize as much as we can.”
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