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Carl and Susan Baumann commit $1.6 million for new student scholarship

Carl and Susan Baumann have long believed in steering their philanthropic efforts toward people who are working to strengthen communities and advance social justice. With their latest gift to the UNC School of Social Work, the Baumanns hope to generate more opportunities for social work students eager to pursue the same mission.

The couple recently committed $1.6 million to create the Carl A. and Susan H. Baumann Macro Student Opportunity Scholarship Fund – one of the largest scholarship gifts the School has ever received.

Once fully endowed, the combination cash and planned gift will provide an estimated $80,000 annually to support social work students pursuing careers in community, management, and policy practice, a concentration that prepares graduates for practice at community, organizational, and societal levels.

Carl Baumann, who serves on the School of Social Work’s Board of Advisors, said the donation is the couple’s way of improving access to higher education, particular to students who are passionate about changing policies and systems that broadly affect people who are marginalized.

“For several years now, we’ve been working on ways to give back and our focus has been on education because we feel and believe that education is the key to everything, including growth opportunities for people and personal well-being, and raising people out of poverty, all of which leads to a stronger democracy,” Baumann said. “This is just one of the ways we can move social justice forward.”

Over the years, Baumann has assisted numerous UNC undergraduate and social work graduates interested in starting nonprofits and social enterprises through his role as a mentor with SCORE Chapel Hill, which advises small business clients. The new scholarship fund, he said, is the chance to directly contribute to students who want to pursue careers that further social and economic justice but don’t have the financial ability to attend UNC.

“We both feel so strongly about what these social work students are doing and that they aren’t going out into the world to make a lot of money,” he added. “They are in it to help people, which is so much more important. By helping the macro students, we’re also helping the communities and families they’re trying to raise up through policy and organizational change. That’s really important to us, and this is our way of giving back and supporting these students.”

That the School’s students also work to build relationships with donors is also appreciated, added Susan Baumann. “We’ve gotten to meet the students, and that’s been really important to us to have a connection and to be able to keep up with each other – that’s been a real gift to us.”

Generous support from donors, such as the Baumanns, is vital to the School’s mission to educate social workers who are prepared to solve problems that threaten the well-being and livelihoods of individuals, families and communities, said Mary Beth Hernandez, the School’s associate dean for advancement.

“I’m so very grateful to Carl and Susan for their transformative gift,” Hernandez praised. “The impact of this fund will be long-lasting and profound.”