Yale School of Architecture: 2020 Impact Report

Yale School of Architecture: 2020 Impact Report


Gifts from alumni and friends to the Yale School of Architecture are the largest source of funding, enabling financial aid packages, faculty salaries, guest speakers, visiting critics, building project internships, student travel, and more.

The generosity of alumni and friends helps the school advance major priorities. In our 2018 Strategic Plan, we set the following four guiding principles:

  1. Foster creativity and innovation
  2. Commit to a culture of collaboration and inclusion that supports many perspectives and backgrounds
  3. Act on intellectual curiosity to explore, research, and invent solutions to real design challenges
  4. Engage the world to create an ethical, relevant architecture that supports a sustainable planet

Donor support has fueled progress toward each of these goals. In the past year, YSoA applied philanthropic support to:

  • Launch the Building LAB for advanced design-build and sustainable materials research
  • Formalize joint teaching relationships with the schools of Management, Environment, and Law
  • Create two new professorships, including the first professorship in landscape architecture
  • Engage students to work with local nonprofits on pro-bono design projects that address COVID-19 problems
  • Achieve gender parity among studio faculty and students
  • Increase African American, Indigenous, and Latinx student populations
  • Advance research by YSoA’s Center for Ecosystems in Architecture to create locally sourced Eco-Living Modules voted #1 World Changing Idea by UN news

The Power of Financial Aid

To help our students reach their full potential, the School of Architecture provides need-based financial aid. Since 2015, the School has grown its annual financial aid budget from $3.6M to $5.6M, in response to focused outreach by Dean Deborah Berke and in thanks to significant gifts in response from alumni and friends. In 2019-2020, the School gave scholarship aid to 84% of its student body. Recent growth in financial aid has cut the average student’s tuition debt in half.

Increased financial aid makes it possible for students like Araceli L. and Max W. to attend YSoA.

“My story is no different than other Mexican-American children. I was the first in my family to receive a high school diploma, the first to earn a Bachelor, a B.A in Architectural Design and a B.S in Construction Management. I, like many others before me, had no funds for such an education…. I picked the Yale School of Architecture because I trusted that this school would train me as a designer. In my time at Yale, I have come to realize that although I may need financial support, I am a trained designer, one that thinks and speaks with assurance… it is Yale that has given me the confidence and support to realize this, through its wise critics and an explorative curriculum…. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a well-established school; I am thankful for the support financially and mentally.” Araceli L., M.Arch I ’21

“The support this school has offered me has made a tremendous difference in my life by enabling me to take full advantage of my time at the School of Architecture…. By way of background, I grew up in a small town in Vermont… and worked for over a decade as a professional dancer…. I have found that YSoA has unconditionally embraced me and my nontraditional background. Not only is my perspective as a dancer welcomed here in the study of architecture; it is, in many ways, seen as an asset…. It is truly exciting to watch oneself grow into a new field. I feel passionate about the pursuit of new knowledge and understanding, and YSoA has provided abundant opportunity in that regard.” Max W., M.Arch I ’21

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does YSoA need money when Yale has so much?

Just 0.7% of Yale’s endowment is restricted to support YSoA. This philanthropic support from the endowment covers 55% of YSoA’s budget. Tuition and new donations fill the gap, and we are committed to reducing the cost of attendance, which makes gifts particularly critical. Philanthropy has always been a key source of funding, and it is important that alumni and friends continue to support the program today, building upon the support of past generations and ensuring today’s students have the tools to succeed.

Do smaller gifts make a difference?

Yes! Every donation makes an impact. Gifts of all sizes to the Annual Fund accumulate to make a large impact at YSoA. Together all the gifts toward financial aid lessen a current student’s graduating debt burden. In 2019–2020, gifts of $250 and less totaled $56,000—the equivalent of one full-tuition scholarship.

How are gifts to YSoA used, and can I give to a specific program or project?

Gifts can be directed to support current priorities through the Annual Fund, to create new endowed funds, or to add to existing endowments. New endowed funds can be created with commitments of at least $100,000 and will support specific needs in perpetuity; contact Jill Siegel, Director of Development for more information (jill.siegel@yale.edu). Gifts of all sizes can be directed toward the following designations:
Annual Fund: Unrestricted supports the Dean’s priorities, including financial aid
Annual Fund: Financial Aid goes directly into scholarship packages, reducing a current student’s debt burden
Annual Fund: Diversity | Equity | Inclusion funds student groups working to amplify new voices and build community engagement
Dean’s Endowed Scholarship Fund provides stable financial aid funding for students in perpetuity

Where is YSoA headed, and what are the School’s major goals?

To advance excellence in architecture, Dean Deborah Berke has set a transformative goal of raising $75 million in new endowment for scholarships, enough to meet all demonstrated tuition need and eliminate tuition-debt. Since 2016, alumni, parents, and friends have contributed $25 million toward this goal through gifts of all types and sizes which includes small gifts to the Annual Fund as well as Bequests, Charitable Gift Annuities, and newly Endowed Funds. We aspire be the first graduate architecture program in America that guarantees enough financial aid for all students to graduate debt free. Such a policy represents a new paradigm for the school and for the wider field of architecture.