The Business of Giving
15 years of "making life better...one individual at a time"
In March of 2000, Bill Daniels, a dear friend, mentor, and remarkable person of integrity and compassion, passed away.
Bill was a visionary who, before his passing, thoughtfully planned out his foundation. He specified his priorities, making certain that his legacy would be sustained in perpetuity. Were it not for Bill’s drive to be a successful businessman coupled with his desire to give back to those less fortunate, thousands of individuals, college students, nonprofits, and communities would not be benefiting today.
In our first 15 years, Daniels Fund has awarded more than $582 million in grants and scholarships throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming – states that Bill lived or worked in; or as he said, states that "contributed to the luck I have had."
It wasn't luck that contributed to Bill's success. It was the principles he lived by. It was the personal relationships he developed. It was his leadership, loyalty, passion, respect for others, and genuine desire to make a difference.
As Bill once wrote, "I've never considered wealth as the primary measure of my success. For me, the biggest kick I get out of life is giving back to those less fortunate and using money to do good things for people." I can't imagine what our lives and our communities would be like without Bill's vision for "making life better…one individual at a time."
With gratitude to our founder,
President and CEO
Providing College Grads with the Competitive Edge
"I didn't get the job because I have no experience. But how can I get experience if I can’t get a job!"
Who hasn't heard this from a young person?
But I question if it's experience alone that employers are looking for, or is it character as well as experience?
If character — integrity, leadership, accountability, honesty — is the missing element, how and where can students “learn” these valuable soft-skills that will give them a competitive edge in the workplace?
Bill Daniels attributed his success to integrity, perseverance, and relationships, and believed that character, supplemented with education, was a sure formula for young people.
Through the Daniels Scholarship Program, Daniels Scholars are encouraged to work hard, strive for success, and take advantage of opportunities offered to them to make a difference.
How does our scholarship program prepare students for success in career and life?
- New scholars participate in an assessment that offers insight into personal and leadership strengths, to help guide and reinforce their career path.
- Scholars complete the Daniels Scholarship Enrichment Program, a series of modules that address characteristics Bill felt were essential for success: character, etiquette, financial literacy, patriotism, civic engagement, work ethic, and more.
- They participate in My Career, a video series focusing on career preparation: informational interviews, resumes, internships, interviewing skills, and more.
- Each scholar is assigned a Daniels Fund Scholar Relations Officer, who provides support, guidance, and resources.
- A dedicated Employer Relations Officer builds relationships with companies across the U.S. to learn what they look for in an employee and to introduce them to scholars seeking employment in their field.
- Campus activities, community service, retreats, and leadership opportunities round out the scholars' college experience.
We've learned that the standard of character, leadership, and service that is upheld by Daniels Scholars provides our graduates with a competitive edge that employers look for, and makes them desirable candidates for employers employers to hire.
President and CEO
From College Graduation to New Scholar Orientation
First, we celebrate the Daniels Scholars who graduate from colleges across the U.S. – many of whom are launching a new career; many of whom are continuing their education. We are proud of our Scholars who work hard to make the best of their college opportunity.
The Daniels Scholarship Program requires serious effort, and a dedication to honoring the program’s core principles and requirements. Students have access to dedicated staff support, specialized online programs, professional development, and a network of like-minded individuals.
Daniels Scholars know their hard-earned college degree will make a lasting difference in their life and the lives of those around them.
Next, we welcome the new class of Daniels Scholars at a three-day orientation called SHIFT – Scholars Heading Into the Future Together.
This year, 245 new scholars from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming assembled at the University of Denver for a weekend of classes, activities, networking, discussions, and a dinner-dance celebration. It was nothing short of spectacular! These students were determined, excited, inquisitive, and grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
There are now more than 1,300 Daniels Scholarship Alumni. We enjoy staying in touch with them and learning how they are actively engaged in their careers and in their communities. From engineers and teachers, to doctors and elected officials, Daniels Scholars around the globe are fulfilling their commitment to make the world a better place.
President and CEO
Make "Ethics" a Verb
The thought-provoking ethics case involved genetic testing and workplace privacy, challenging the teams to delve into real-world business complexities. Teams, playing the role of a consulting firm, had about 6 weeks to analyze the case and formulate their presentation. And just like the real world, an unexpected crisis was unveiled during the competition, requiring students to think on their feet.
"That's when values get challenged," cautioned Joe Blake, Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System, speaking to the students at the kick-off dinner. He said the question of ethics and conflict most often comes "at that intersection with the unexpected, the unpredictable."
When facing an ethical dilemma, in business or in life, it can be very lonely. You don't always have a team. It's just you, your ethical principles, and the unexpected.
The goal of the Ethics Consortium is to help students build a solid principle-based ethical framework and the skills to navigate real ethical challenges. Bill Daniels considered his ethics and integrity his most valuable business asset and our establishment and funding of the Ethics Consortium reflects that. It provides students expanded access to business ethics coursework, case studies, speakers, and other activities. Events like this ethics case competition give students an opportunity to put their learning into practice.
Joe Blake's advice to the students that struck me as most important and remarkable was when he encouraged them to "Make ethics a verb. Make it your imprint."
President and CEO
Young People of Exceptional Character: Daniels Scholars
Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood/Denver Nuggets
Exceptional character and hard work pay off.
Ask any of the 260 newly named Daniels Scholars. They were selected because they embody character, leadership, and a commitment to community service — traits Bill Daniels identified as hallmarks of the scholarship program. When we announced the new class of Daniels Scholars, they were excited and proud. They told us they’re incredibly honored. They said it is literally life changing. They thanked us for believing in them. What the new Daniels Scholars don’t realize is that it’s almost as exciting for us as it is for them!
But the selection process is difficult work. This year’s pool of 2,571 applicants was carefully narrowed to 549 semi-finalists who all underwent interviews. With semi-finalists spread across the four states we serve, interviews were conducted in 20 cities over 25 days.
We can’t do this alone, so we invite leaders from each community to volunteer a full day to interview potential Daniels Scholars. This year we had 245 interviewers — top executives from business, educational institutions, nonprofits, and other fields. They bring tremendous insight and wisdom to our selection process. Interviewing is a challenging and emotion-charged day, yet these incredible volunteers thank us for the privilege of participating.
At the close of the day, one interviewer commented, “The word ‘humbling’ comes to mind, and it was an honor to be part of this.” Another remarked how inspirational it was to meet so many great kids working hard towards a brighter future for themselves and their families. The recurring theme from many interviewers was that these students give them hope for the future of our country.
I couldn't agree more.
President and CEO
Our Board of Directors
A CEO's Perspective
Our board members share much in common with Bill. Like him, they are all self-made men and women. Bill admired them for their entrepreneurial values and accomplishments. Several members faced experiences in earlier years that help them understand challenges like poverty or family alcoholism.
Our board of directors provides decades of experience — community engagement, leadership, portfolio management, regulatory compliance — essential to carrying out our mission. They’re extremely well prepared for board meetings, even with the multiple packets of materials they receive and read thoroughly in advance. Attendance at board and committee meetings is so strong, board members frequently choose to attend meetings for committees they’re not even on! This is a committed and hard working group. I have tremendous respect for this group, and have learned a considerable amount from each of them.
Our board members share another trait — a loyalty to Bill Daniels and dedication to honoring his directions. I find them unwavering in this regard. Having these people on our board through the early years of the Daniels Fund’s development has been essential to establishing this foundation as Bill Daniels envisioned it.
President and CEO