Carlson Family Foundation announces $15 million gifts to Driven campaign

Renewing its commitment to excellence in global business leadership, the Carlson Family Foundation has made a transformational investment of $10 million to the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. With an additional $5 million in giving across the University since the launch of the Driven campaign in July 2011, the Carlson Family becomes one of the largest donors to the Driven campaign.

This recent gift is among the largest gifts to the Carlson School of Management since Curt Carlson made his commitment of $25 million to the University in 1986. Carlson family philanthropy now stands at over $68 million in gifts to the University, ranking the family as the largest individual contributor to the University of Minnesota. 

“The foundation laid by Curt Carlson over 30 years ago propelled the Carlson School to the global stage,” said Eric W. Kaler, Ph.D., President, University of Minnesota. “Today’s gift will advance the Carlson School’s capacity for global leadership and have far-reaching benefits for students, faculty, our vibrant business community, and our partners around the world.” 

“The Carlson family’s commitment to the University began in 1932, the year my grandfather, Curt Carlson, enrolled as a freshman. Over the years and into our 4th generation, our commitment and our belief that the success of the University and Minnesotans are directly linked, has only gained strength,” said Wendy Nelson, Board Chair, Carlson Family Foundation and Co-Chair, Carlson School campaign. “With this gift, three successive generations stand with Minnesota, the University, and the Carlson School in partnership to cement the school’s position as a leading business school with a global reach and a powerful purpose—Business as a Force for Good.”

This latest gift is targeted toward enhancing the global prominence and reach of the Carlson School, which includes a profile in 34 countries through student exchanges, faculty-led programs, internships, Global Executive MBA, partnerships, and more. Curt Carlson's groundbreaking 1986 gift ushered in a new era of philanthropic support for the School. Donors have since helped construct two new facilities, establish over 200 new endowed scholarship funds, and created 42 endowed faculty positions. As a result, the Carlson's School's enrollment has nearly tripled, and its faculty are ranked among the best in the world.

“For over 60 years, the Carlson family has been our partner, allowing us to achieve greater capacity to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving and growing global marketplace,” said Sri Zaheer, Ph.D., Dean, Carlson School of Management. “Today’s Carlson School graduates have each had an international experience as part of their academic requirements and are well positioned to look ahead and shape the future. This latest investment from the Carlson family will bring more of Minnesota to the world, and more of the world to Minnesota.”

About the Carlson School of Management:
Established in 1919, the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management is a business school at the University of Minnesota. Recognized as a leader in business education and research, its focus on experiential learning, international education and maintaining strong ties to the business community exemplify the school’s commitment to excellence. Today, the Carlson School has 55,000+ alumni in 90 countries, 12 degree programs, and 103 tenure-track and 39 full-time instructional faculty members. The school offers bachelor’s, master’s, MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as executive education programs hosted domestically and abroad.

About the Carlson Family Foundation:
The Carlson Family Foundation is a Minnesota-based philanthropic foundation that seeks to uplift youth through leadership at the intersection of love and insight.  Established in 1959 by Curt and Arleen Carlson, the Foundation’s mission is to work together with the community to create opportunity, hope and a sense of belonging for every young person. Through its grants to the University of Minnesota and the Carlson School of Management, the Foundation supports the Carlson School’s commitment to business as a force for good, as well as opportunities across the University that offer world-class student experiences.  Learn more at


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