Charlie Grizzle is helping first-generation students expand their educational horizons thanks to the flexibility of charitable gift annuities.

Charlie GrizzleContrary to what one might expect, it is a good thing Charlie Grizzle didn’t listen to his high school guidance counselor.

He recalls his counselor warning, “You shouldn’t go to the University of Kentucky. Kids from these poor, eastern Kentucky schools have no business going down there. You’ll just flunk out.”

Thankfully, Charlie ignored that advice and became the first graduate from Wurtland High School in Greenup County to attend UK. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1973, after which he became involved in several political campaigns—including serving as deputy chairman for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign in Kentucky.

Following a brief stint as executive director of the Republican Party of Kentucky, Charlie moved to Washington, D.C., to accept an appointment by President Reagan in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Following his stint there in 1988 he was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1993, Charlie founded The Grizzle Company, a federal government relations consulting firm where he represented several Kentucky interests in the nation’s capital as well as companies and associations on a variety of legislative and regulatory matters. After a hectic 25 years of lobbying, he retired at the end of 2018 and now divides his time between Washington and Miami Beach.

Charlie may have lived and worked in the nation’s capital, but his heart resides in Kentucky and the university that prepared him for a successful career. Not surprisingly, Charlie’s philanthropic relationship with UK stems from gratitude.

“I believe I have an obligation to repay some of the blessings and the good things that have happened to me. It’s also an expression of gratitude for the foundation that UK provided,” said Charlie. “It’s critical to who I am as a person and what I was able to accomplish.”

Charlie’s passion is to find ways to financially support first-generation Kentucky students, particularly through internships and opportunities to study in other countries. He has already supported students through the Arts and Sciences International Education Fund; recently, he created the Charlie Grizzle Washington D.C. Intern Travel Fund.

“As a financially underprivileged undergraduate who had to work, there was no way in the world I could have afforded an internship or study abroad, so those are the two things that I’ve focused on,” said Charlie.

Charlie has utilized charitable gift annuities (CGA) to turn his intentions into reality. CGAs allow donors to make a substantial gift to the university that also provides reliable income during their retirement years. The annuities can be funded through appreciated securities, cash, or a combination of the two.

“There are a number of reasons why I have created two funds using CGAs,” Charlie said. “Laura Sutton, the philanthropy officer for the College of Arts & Sciences, knows I want to find ways to contribute and thought the CGA would enable me to realize my vision. It really fit my particular needs at the time.”

When asked if he would recommend CGAs to others, Charlie answered affirmatively and supplied three reasons why.

“First, you're making a significant financial contribution to the university. Second, you're getting an income stream from that annuity and, finally, you get a federal income tax charitable deduction. I’m very happy that I’ve done it and I hope others will investigate it and do the same.”

In addition to the two funds Charlie has created through CGAs, he has included a gift to UK in his will. He also participates on the College of Arts & Science’s committee for Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign.

“Whether it's my church or my school, I believe it's important to give back and UK is very near and dear to my heart.”

Charlie’s guidance counselor was wrong. He didn’t flunk out. He did belong at UK; and students are reaping the rewards of his decision.

If you would like to turn the gratitude you feel for your UK education into a lasting legacy, contact Gift and Estate Planning at (859) 257-7886 or