A $3.5 million gift for future generations at RIT

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Chance Wright spent five years in Rochester. (Photo courtesy of RIT)

Chance Wright believes in giving back to his alma mater to provide opportunities for future generations. A 2018 advertising photography alum at Rochester Institute of Technology, Wright recently pledged $3.5 million to the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, the largest single gift ever to RIT’s College of Art and Design.

The gift comes from Wright and his mother, Pamela Mars Wright, whose late father was the co-president of Mars Inc., most widely known as a manufacturer of confectionery. Wright, who also earned his MBA from RIT’s Saunders College of Business earlier this month, said he “wanted to make a gift that would help the students directly and make the biggest impact” for the photo school, which made such an impression on him during a campus visit five years ago. 

The donation will help the school renovate its spaces, enabling it to reshape the physical environment in which students learn and hone their skills, said Therese Mulligan, school director of SPAS.

Wright plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue his work as an independent movie producer. He has an animated children’s film in the works as well as a live-action feature film. In addition, Wright is about to begin work on a documentary about para-Olympics. The Rochester Beacon posed a few questions to him on his recent donation to RIT.

Why did you decide to donate to RIT?

I wanted to donate to RIT because I believe in giving back to your educational institution. People learn and grow so much at and through their universities that I think it is important to give back for future students and opportunities which can be made possible for future generations.

What was your impression of Rochester?

My first impression was probably like most: it’s cloudy, cold winters and stuff like that. But I have been thankful to live in Rochester for five years. It became home with my favorite places to go eat, friends in and around the community. While I won’t continue to live in Rochester, I will be back regularly for business as well as fun. 

Students today want more than “just an education.” What did you learn at RIT that went beyond the classroom?

Where to start!? I think that, through the photography program, I was able to learn so much outside of the classroom through practice and hours dedicated to the craft. But outside of the curriculum, my fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, taught me a lot with brotherhood, friendship and philanthropy. The Shore Foundation taught me a lot about practical business, nonprofit work, and the great Rochester business community. And lastly, the community itself is such a great, kind group of people. Rochester on the surface is not a great look, but when you start to dig down into the city, it really is a special place.

What advice would you give incoming students?

Try everything you can! College is about figuring out what to do with your life. It’s about exploring and learning not only the professional world, but also making the friends and family who will stay with you forever. And while studying should be the highest priority, because you are at school still, don’t forget to let loose and have fun when you can.

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