Making an Impact

Sarah Alt smiling As the IT director at Briggs and Stratton, it is Sarah Alt's '99 job to successfully deliver information technology products to the enterprise. So it's ironic that when she came to MSOE she didn't even know what the internet was. "I didn't send my first email until I was in a lab my freshman year. At that time, my mom knew more about the internet than I did," she joked.

Alt originally pursued biomedical engineering at MSOE before switching to technical communication her junior year. "I got an exposure to engineering that I respect and use to this day, but I found a passion that worked for me," she noted. She loved being able to combine her academic obligations with outside interests like athletics and extracurricular activities.

In part, it was the rich environment of experiences that inspired her to support MSOE through planned giving. Although she and her husband Jamie are faithful contributors to the Annual Fund, they wanted to make a bigger impact. "I wanted to be deliberate about leaving something behind. Our annual gift didn't seem like enough, but we weren't in the position to increase our gift substantially. After talking with Scott Weaver, we decided a life insurance policy was the perfect vehicle. Now we're making a commitment that is impactful, and I feel like I'm leaving something behind."

It wasn't hard to talk her husband into the plan. "Jamie works at GE, which has longstanding ties to MSOE." He was excited about the GE Girls program, which partners with MSOE to expose young girls to STEM-related fields. "It wasn't just my decision, it was both of ours. Jamie sees MSOE actively partnering with companies and believes in MSOE's mission as much as I do because he sees it working."

Alt's involvement has not been limited to financial contributions. She served as chair of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, and as president of the Alumni Association from 2009 to 2012, and helped in the restructuring of the alumni chapters nationwide during her tenure. She also serves on the technical communication advisory board and is involved with MSOE's Servant-Leadership program. Her planned gift means more than just staying connected. "When I came to MSOE, I made a commitment to benefit and serve my fellow students and to enhance the entire educational community. This gift strengthens that commitment."

For more information about including MSOE in your estate planning, contact Jonathan Kowalski, JD, director of planned giving, at (414) 277-4510 or

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Milwaukee School of Engineering a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Milwaukee School of Engineering, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1025 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSOE or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSOE where you agree to make a gift to MSOE and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.