Shortly after they graduated from the Carson College of Business, Jared (’07 Bus. Admin.) and Krystal (’07 Bus. Admin., ’08 MAcc.) Theis decided to become regular donors. The couple were the first in their families to earn four-year college degrees. Both grew up in Central Washington in working class families, with parents who encouraged them to attend college.
“I secured a great job largely because WSU had a strong business college in the Northwest,” says Jared, senior manager in audit practice for KPMG in Spokane. “I was grateful for this opportunity, and I wanted to ensure other students have similar opportunities.”
When the couple made their first donations, they were newlyweds with a fixer-upper house. They each gave about $250 through payroll deductions the first year, which their employers matched. As their incomes grew, they raised their level of giving by small increments.
During the early years of their careers, “this was a great way to maximize our financial impact,” Jared says. “It never felt like a burden, and coupled with our employers’ match, it has resulted in thousands of dollars over the years.”
“I Owed a Lot to My Professors”
Jared has mentored accounting students in the college, been a guest lecturer, and participated in KPMG’s on campus recruiting. He’s currently the vice chair of the college’s Accounting Advisory Board.
“I owed a lot to my professors, and I wanted to start giving back,” he says.
Since he didn’t come from a professional background, Jared’s professors coached him through what to wear to job interviews and helped him understand workplace culture.
“I did not own a suit,” he says. “The weekend before my interview, I met my mom in Spokane, and we went shopping.”
Helping Students Through Scholarships
Each year, KPMG awards two $1,000 scholarships to accounting students, which are funded by employee donations and the company match. Last year, one of the scholarships went to Molly McDowell, an accounting major from Selah, Washington, who just finished her junior year.
“I was extremely humbled and grateful,” McDowell says. “So far, I’ve been able to make it through college without any debt.”
Creating a Plan for Giving
At some point, Jared and Krystal would like to explore the possibility of creating a scholarship within the Carson College of Business.
Besides helping ease the financial burden of college for students, the couple hopes to inspire a stronger culture of giving after graduation.
“I’d like to see students create a plan for charitable giving,” Jared says, “including leveraging matching gifts from employers or other philanthropic programs, such as time off for volunteering. Every contribution makes a difference.”