The Legacy Project Names Annual Funds Recipient

Through the Principal Charity Classic, Sammons Financial Group donates $50,000 to local nonprofit 

West Des Moines, Iowa – May 23, 2023Sammons Financial Group® and the Principal Charity Classic have selected By Degrees Foundation as the 2023 recipient of donations raised through the Legacy Project. In 2021, the Principal Charity Classic and Sammons Financial Group partnered to launch the Legacy Project, which supports non-profit organizations focused on systemic changes designed to address racial disparities and inequities in our community.

The long-term goal of the Legacy Project is to give all sponsors and patrons of the Principal Charity Classic an opportunity to designate a portion of their contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that strengthen our community in the future. This year, the Legacy Project will support By Degrees Foundation, which has achieved phenomenal success in increasing high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates for students at inner-city schools. Sammons Financial Group seeded this year’s project with a $50,000 donation to help By Degrees expand its programs.

At North High, for example, over 67% of all students participated in future-focused programing during the 2021-22 school year and 72% of the Class of 2022 had postsecondary plans. These percentages reflect significant increases from 2019, when By Degrees first partnered with North High. By Degrees has achieved unprecedented results through addressing the complex obstacles influencing student success and building a pervasive culture of postsecondary education and career planning for students throughout their K-12 school experience.


“The spirit of the Legacy Project is to expand upon, not compete with, the success of our Birdies for Charity program,” said Ken McCullum, board chair for the Principal Charity Classic. “We applaud Sammons Financial Group for wanting to build community support for the organizations leading the way to address racial disparities and inequities in our community and hope others will support this worthy cause.”

By Degrees offers participating students a unique educational experience by working with public schools and engaging with community partners to incorporate postsecondary and career readiness activities, provide financial education, promote postsecondary savings, and introduce students to the vast number of scholarships and financial aid programs available. Additionally, By Degrees offers:

  • An in-school program manager: Each partner school receives a By Degrees program manager to work directly in and with schools to identify needs, develop solutions, coordinate program implementation, and build and maintain a future-focused culture.
  • Postsecondary visits: Every K-8 grade level partners with a postsecondary institution. Students visit a partner school each year to learn from professors and students. In high school, By Degrees works with teachers and other community groups to facilitate small group visits tailored to specific education and career goals.
  • Career experiences: By Degrees holds annual in-school career days introducing students to a variety of careers in fields requiring diverse educational paths. In middle school, students take career, skills, and interest surveys, and build on identified areas of interest with internships, externships, and other career experiences throughout high school.
  • 529 college savings accounts: All Findley students have access to a free, By Degrees-owned 529 savings account and can earn $200 annually throughout K-12 by completing academic/personal milestones. This is the first asset-building program of its kind in Iowa and was created to reduce the widening wealth gap, increase engagement, and strengthen financial health.
  • Financial education: By Degrees hosts an annual Family Fun Night to bring students and families together to learn about funding options for postsecondary education and planning for the future. Middle and high school students participate in workshops and experiences that help them plan for their post-high school lives.
  • Postsecondary pathway planning: By Degrees works closely with partner schools to deploy a deliberate and interconnected model ensuring students regularly learn about postsecondary pathways, create real-life roadmaps, and prepare for the future at every stage of K-12 development.

“The results achieved through the By Degrees program are outstanding. When we met some of the students and saw the program in action, we knew instantly that we wanted to support it. It was truly inspiring to see how proud the students were to show us the binders where they documented their goals and recorded their progress throughout the school year,” said Tom Nucaro, chair of Sammons Financial Group’s community involvement committee. “Our vision for the Legacy Project is to create a community-backed partnership to support organizations with defined goals, strategies, and measurable outcomes to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion. By Degrees is having a huge impact on our community in these areas, and we are genuinely excited about our new partnership.”


“Funding from the Legacy Project made possible by Sammons Financial Group and the Principal Charity Classic will have a massive impact on our organization, allowing us to help meet the needs of our students and help create more equitable educational opportunities in our central Iowa community," said Emily Westergaard, CEO of By Degrees Foundation. “This school year alone, we’ve facilitated 50 visits to postsecondary institutions across Iowa and added a new visit to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) for Harding and North students.”

About the Principal Charity Classic

The Principal Charity Classic is an annual and award-winning PGA TOUR Champions event dedicated to investing in the future of Iowa kids. In 2022, the Principal Charity Classic raised a record $8.2 million for charity, bringing the tournament’s giving total to more than $45.6 million since 2007. Tournament funds benefit organizations that provide a broad level of support to Iowa kids in the areas of education and culture, financial security, and/or health and wellness. Last year, the tournament touched the lives of more than 130,000 children statewide. For more information on the charities and the tournament, visit and follow via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Sammons® Financial Group, Inc.

The companies of Sammons Financial Group® help families and businesses protect their future to enjoy life’s moments today. A subsidiary of Sammons Enterprises, Inc., Sammons Financial Group is privately owned with member companies that are among the most enduring and stable in the financial services industry. Our companies include Midland National® Life Insurance Company (including Sammons® Corporate Markets); North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®; Sammons Institutional Group® (including Midland Retirement Distributors® and Sammons Retirement Solutions®) and Beacon Capital ManagementSM, Inc. Together, we offer today’s most sought-after life insurance, annuity, and retirement planning products.

About By Degrees Foundation

We believe education is a community effort and recognize the transformational impact incremental changes can make on a student’s life. Partnering with public schools, we work to increase high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates through an expansive, K-12 culture of future-focused planning and saving. To meet our goals, we engage community partnerships that address barriers and incorporate postsecondary and career readiness activities, financial education, and asset building for whole neighborhoods of students.

Media Contact:

Hillary Carlson, Sammons Financial Group, I (515) 221-7426

Karena Ries, Principal Charity Classic, | (641) 745-7853