Among many things, S. Buford Scott was a noted philanthropist who dedicated much of his life to two things: increasing financial literacy and championing inclusion at his alma mater, the University of Virginia (UVA).
He spent his career working for Scott & Stringfellow, a securities firm founded by his family in 1893, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of BB&T in 1999. Having keen financial insight was his family business—and Scott wanted to empower future generations with that knowledge.
Truist pays tribute to S. Buford Scott
Last year, Truist Wealth gifted $1 million to UVA’s Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Program in Scott’s name. The gift endows a merit-based scholarship that covers the full cost of attendance for four years. It also established the Truist-Ridley Leadership and Financial Education Academy.
“Buford was incredibly active in the community, tied to UVA, and well-known for his philanthropy,” says Denise Merinar, senior managing director within Truist Wealth. “Our executive leaders Joe Thompson and Bryan Cram wanted to honor him with a substantial gift while supporting the ideas that were most important to him.”
The Ridley Scholarship Program has awarded more than 300 scholarships to Black undergraduates at UVA. In keeping with Scott’s vision—and Truist’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—the gift ensures that future Black students
can become Buford Scholars through the renewable four-year scholarship.
Developing leaders in finance
Truist’s gift also perpetuates Scott’s commitment to financial literacy. Through the Truist-Ridley Leadership and Financial Education Academy, four cohorts will develop deep personal and professional skills related to finance.
The academy helps students gain a greater understanding of self while discovering career opportunities within the world of finance, Merinar says. “We spend time talking to them about their lives, getting their first job, and why retirement planning is so important,” she continues.
In May, the first cohort of 25 students got an immersive introduction to corporate communications, economics, and investing. Leaders from Truist Wealth imparted knowledge on motivation, interviewing, and building important professional skills.
And the student response was overwhelming. “They immersed themselves in the program the week after finals while their peers were on vacation or relaxing,” says Merinar. “It was busy, and we’re looking forward to our second cohort in January.”
The first Buford Scholar will start their freshman year at UVA this fall.
A life of service
S. Buford Scott was dedicated to charitable causes largely focused on youth and education. He helped establish the Virginia Council on Economic Education (VCEE), which advises K-12 teachers on teaching youth-focused financial literacy. In 1970, he sold his family farm to create Elk Hill, a nonprofit that provides residential and health services for low-income children. He also helped organizations such as the Micah Project and Virginia Mentoring Partnership.
Influence at UVA
Scott served on the Alumni Board of Managers, chaired the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, and his grandfather’s name adorns the university’s football stadium. He was also a two-time appointee to the university’s Board of Visitors. Recognizing a need for greater diversity within the university’s board leadership, Scott stepped down from his second term to make way for a Black appointee.