Klau family gift establishes new NDIGD fellowship program, courses

Author: Luis Ruuska

Rick And Molly Klau

Rick and Molly Klau of Denver have made a $1 million endowment gift to the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), part of the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, for the development of a new student fellowship program, as well as new academic courses, all focused on social innovation, entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship.

The Klau Family Endowment for Excellence for Social Entrepreneurship will be the bedrock of a new NDIGD student fellowship program for both undergraduate and graduate students at the University. The fellowship program will recruit and train rising social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs at Notre Dame through experiential learning on the front lines of development work across the globe. Student fellows will travel to developing countries, where they will work alongside one of NDIGD’s leading public or private partners doing hands-on work on key issues related to social innovation.

“Experiential learning programs like this are becoming more common in higher education for a reason. When students ‘learn by doing,’ they acquire specialized skills and knowledge that make them highly prepared and competitive candidates for careers at premier organizations after graduation,” said Michael Sweikar, executive director and Keough School concurrent assistant professor of the practice. “Through this generous gift, Rick and Molly are helping NDIGD, the Keough School, and Notre Dame empower and shape the next generation of global development leaders.”

The Klau Family Endowment for Excellence for Social Entrepreneurship will also enable NDIGD to develop unique, formative courses that will expose both undergraduate and graduate students to all facets of social innovation. The courses will support entrepreneurial students who wish to create their own enterprises and teach them how to conceptualize, develop, launch, and grow sustainable global development models. Additionally, the courses will support intrapreneurial students who wish to work and lead innovatively within existing organizations in the public or private sectors.

“At NDIGD, we recognize that global problem-solving requires interdisciplinary solutions, and social innovation and entrepreneurship are inherently interdisciplinary activities,” said Ray Offenheiser, director and Keough School Distinguished Professor of the Practice. “Rick and Molly’s generosity will afford NDIGD the opportunity to bring new courses to students from all disciplines at Notre Dame, through the Keough School.”

The Klaus are members of the University’s Badin Guild. Rick is a former member of the Hesburgh Libraries Advisory Council and is a current member of the Keough School of Global Affairs Advisory Council.

Rick is the chairman and former president of Hajoca Corp., the largest privately owned North American wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating, and industrial supplies. His retail and distribution career includes prior leadership positions at WaterPro Supplies Corp., Ionpure Technologies, and Millipore. Earlier in his career, he also held a number of marketing and sales assignments at General Electric and served two years in the United States Navy Reserve. Molly dedicates her time to volunteer and philanthropic opportunities targeting homelessness, hunger, and education in the metro Denver area. They are members of the Denver-area Constellation Philanthropy, a group of like-minded philanthropists focused on high-impact grant making. The Klaus each earned undergraduate degrees from the University of Maryland.

The Klaus recently contributed $10 million to strengthen and endow Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, also a part of the Keough School, which has been renamed in their honor.


The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development — an integral part of the new Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame — works to address global poverty and inequality through policy, practice, and partnership.

Contact: Luis Ruuska, communications specialist, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, lruuska@nd.edu

Originally published by Luis Ruuska at ndigd.nd.edu on October 01, 2018.