Nelson and Michéle Carbonell’s journey with Flint Hill began when their oldest daughter, Carmen ’07, was entering the seventh grade. A bright student with strong artistic talents, the Carbonells were seeking an environment for Carmen that could challenge her academically while nurturing her passions and providing solid academic coaching. After choosing Flint Hill, the Carbonells also enrolled Carmen’s sisters, Roxana ’09 and Sophia ’14. As the years passed, the Carbonells developed a deep appreciation for the School’s differentiated approach to education.
“What we found that makes Flint Hill unique is that it’s really centered around each individual student,” Mr. Carbonell said. “Each of our girls benefitted from that. I believe each student at Flint Hill gets the opportunity to be the best ‘them’ that they can be, and I think that’s why Flint Hill was so special for our family and I think why Flint Hill is so special in our community.”
The Carbonells’ commitment to supporting institutions that are meaningful to them runs deep. A 1985 graduate of George Washington University, Nelson Carbonell is currently serving his second term as chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. He attended the university on a full scholarship, which has shaped his passion for supporting other students in their educational pursuits. Through their foundation, Nelson and Michele have supported several programs at the university, including the installation of a director to lead the university’s Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Initiative and an endowed scholarship for its engineering program.
As Flint Hill parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carbonell quickly became active in the School community, with Michele participating in the girls’ classroom activities and field trips, and Nelson serving on the Board of Trustees. Today, they remain engaged members of the Flint Hill family, and they are committed to making a Flint Hill education accessible to students who might not otherwise be able to join our vibrant community.
“Flint Hill is a wonderful school and gives great opportunities to [its students], but there are kids who can’t afford that opportunity,” said Mr. Carbonell. “We thought it was important to provide the resources to have Flint Hill help really talented students take advantage of being at Flint Hill. Our hope is that [the school] can not only continue to do what it has done for those talented students who have financial needs, but that they will be able to do it for even more students in the future.”
To that end, the Nelson A. and Michéle Carbonell Family Foundation has made a $1 million gift to establish an endowment for financial aid at Flint Hill. With this endowment, Flint Hill will be able to further its mission to focus on the learner with an expanded scope, bolstering the availability of need-based financial aid to prospective Flint Hill students. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Carbonell commit to getting to know the recipients personally and remaining connected to them in a supportive role throughout their time at the School and beyond. Their long-range vision is to create a cohort of Carbonell scholars who remain engaged with the School after graduation by mentoring Flint Hill students who are also benefitting from the endowment.
Currently, approximately 17% of Flint Hill’s student population receives need-based financial aid. The School is committed to enrolling a student body that represents varying economic backgrounds, and recognizes the critical role that diversity of every kind plays in building and maintaining its dynamic community. The Carbonell family shares this sentiment.
“I know that our three daughters each had students in their class that enriched their lives and enriched their view of the world because of where they came from, and we think our [endowment] will make it possible for Flint Hill to broaden the types of students that come here,” Mr. Carbonell stated.
“We are both honored and humbled to receive such a generous gift from the Carbonell family,” said Flint Hill’s Headmaster, John Thomas. “Nelson, Michéle and their daughters have each left a lasting impression on the School, and we are grateful for the enduring impact this endowment will have on our great school.”
With their daughters all thriving beyond Flint Hill, Nelson and Michéle Carbonell look forward to what will be possible for the future generations of students who will benefit from the endowment.
Drawing upon his own experience as a scholarship recipient in college, Mr. Carbonell believes anything is possible with the right opportunity.
“[Financial aid] invests in individuals. Those individuals can go on to accomplish great things, but only if they have the opportunity to do so. Nothing can feel better as a donor, as a philanthropist, than creating that opportunity for a human being.”