Aligning values, investment, and impact

Jessica Droste Yagan and Sam Yagan, P’26, P’29, P’32

Aligning values, investment, and impact

Jessica Droste Yagan and Sam Yagan met at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a place Sam praises for allowing him to embrace his “nerdiness” and that both Sam and Jessica credit with opening opportunities to them, pushing them to pursue paths of entrepreneurialism and impact.

As parents, Jessica and Sam were drawn to Lab because of its diversity, focus on social justice, and the overt acknowledgment of the importance of kindness. Though in life, the ideal is always slightly out of reach, the Yagans have been excited that at Lab there are always people who are striving to reach the ideal, challenging themselves and others to work harder and be better.

In summer 2020, Jessica and Sam made a $500,000 gift to Lab to support financial aid and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Broadly speaking, they believe that financial aid is critical to increase accessibility to Lab for students who reflect the diversity of the entire city of Chicago. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, they see their gift making it possible for Lab not to lose the gains in diversity and inclusion that it has made over the last few years—the school offered in 2020–21 the largest total amount of aid in its history—and to continue to retain the community of 
students and families that make Lab such a uniquely amazing place.

Jessica firmly believes that all dollars—purchases, investments, gifts—have an impact on the world. For her and Sam, a driving goal is to align these tools of impact with their family’s values and to understand when each of these tools is the right one to move the needle on critical social change.

In looking toward the next year at Lab, Jessica notes, “It’s when things are the hardest that we need to do the most. If you can give, do; your generosity is needed more than ever.”

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