Nelson Wells Legacy Circle

The Nelson Wells Legacy Circle recognizes gifts made to the Bowie State University through planned giving.


The Legacy Circle is named for Nelson Wells, a former slave, who gave the first planned gift to the institution known today as Bowie State University. Wells, a drayman (the driver of a low, heavy cart used for hauling) in Baltimore from 1827 to 1842, expressed a desire to leave an endowment for the education of free black children in Baltimore. Prior to his death at age 57 in 1843, Wells signed two documents, a will and letter of instructions, which bequeathed approximately $3,500 in stock of the City Corporation. At the time of Wells' death, a school meeting his description did not exist, and the legal status of a freedman's estate was questionable. Wells' gift was held by his physician and two trusted associates until the gift was provided in 1871.

Build Your Legacy

This distinguished Legacy Circle honors all planned giving donors for their support of Bowie State University’s mission.

We would be grateful and honored to include you in our Legacy Circle if you have:

  • Provided for the BSU Foundation in your will or trust.
  • Designated BSU as the beneficiary of a qualified retirement plan, savings bond, bank account, or life insurance policy.
  • Created a planned gift that returns fixed or flexible income to you or others.

Your membership in the Legacy Circle may be published. Any details that you disclose about your gift are held in the strictest confidence. If you wish, you may choose to request anonymity; we will certainly respect your wishes.

We welcome the opportunity to have a confidential conversation with you at no obligation. If you would like to become a member of the Legacy Circle, or need more information, please contact:
Office of Institutional Advancement
Henry Administration Building
14000 Jericho Park Road, Suite 2300
Bowie, MD 20715
Phone: (301) 860-4300
Fax: (301) 860-4163

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Bowie State University 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

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Bowie State University [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 BSU 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 BSU 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 BSU 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 BSU where you agree to make a gift to BSU 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.