A Sun Devil of A Duo

Photo courtesy of Airi Katsuta

Mike and Dawn Olsen have established themselves within the Arizona State community through their passion for both academics and athletics. As Arizona State undergrad and master’s graduates, the duo found great success in the financial world. After they married, combined priority points, Sun Devil accounts and households, the two continued to contribute to the success of Arizona State and its athletics program.

“We have continued to be more involved,” Mike said. “Through the Sun Devil Club board, ASU Foundation investment committee, Wings of Gold, Women in Philanthropy – there are a lot of points of connection for us.”

The couple’s passion and drive to continue their commitment for Arizona State athletics is empowered by the message emphasized by Michael Crow.

“Athletics has, in the past, seemed like just sports, and the message was to support the scholastic side of the university,” the Olsen’s said. “But Crow, since he was a wrestler, makes it okay to spend time on the athletics side. It trickles down to the rest of the university too. If you build a better athletics program, more student-athletes are willing to come and in turn, other students are willing to come. The support of athletics builds on the community that he is trying to create.”

The opportunities that the Olsen’s are offering to young student-athletes are a constant reminder of the support that both Dawn and Mike saw through their time at Arizona State.

“My mother raised me to take care of your own, take care of your family and that translates, for us, into taking care of our community and helping kids who I could have been if I didn’t have the support of my family or Mike could have been if he didn’t work 40 hours a week during school or get the support of his family,” Dawn said. “That’s why this naturally translates into giving back to ASU because I am where I am in large part because of the degree and education I got at ASU and the people I met being a part of that.”

The Olsen Family Athletic Scholarship Endowment has been created to mirror a waterfall system. It is designed to financially support football student-athletes interested in pursuing a degree in Sustainability. However, if that doesn’t happen in any given year, the scholarship rolls back to a student-athlete majoring in accounting, finance or general business to benefit.

“It’s incredible to understand the demographics of ASU,” Mike and Dawn said. “The athletics scholarship seems like a logical place for us to tie the educational component into athletics. We together are wanting to take a leadership role to establish a scholarship that is being matched through the Sun Angel Endowment matching program.”

The Sun Angel Endowment matching program has been designed to match the scholarship awards system dollar for dollar and priority point for priority point.

“We think philanthropy is synonymous with investing... we want the best return for the dollars we are putting to work,” the Olsen’s said. “The social return from an investment in someone's education is incredibly impactful--for the student, us personally, and our community.  And the fact that the size of our educational endowment is being immediately doubled with the SAE match makes it that much more exciting to us.”

Both Dawn and Mike feel passionate that they know they are helping someone and supporting their connection for the school in hopes that such athletes may eventually help the university thrive in the future as well.

“It’s a growing school culture to work together to fund areas of the university that people feel passionate about,” the couple said. “The collaboration between athletics and the departments is great because it recognizes the overall impact that any donation has. Being a couple of finance-oriented people, we look at the return on investment and what type of impact our investment is making. We tend to give to things that change people’s lives and this is an excellent way to do so. It’s the biggest return on investment we can get.”

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