ICYMI, last night Chuck Lorre, writer / producer / co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, announced that he would use the show’s success and his foundation (The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation) to pay it forward. His foundation will establish a $4 million dollar endowment to be spread amongst 20 low-income students seeking to attend UCLA in pursuit of a degree in a STEM field. If paid out on a per student basis off the principal, this works out to $200,000 dollars per student which would cover tuition and then some for California residents, or 85% of attendance costs for out-of-state attendees. This is a huge boon for many promising students whose families may not possess the resources to provide them with a worthy college education at UCLA.

From Chuck Lorre himself:

“We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community – this is our opportunity to give back.” “In that spirit, our Big Bang family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists and leaders.”

However, the money is not just coming from Lorre. There are a number of other contributors to this endowment. They include: Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), Kunal Nayyar (Raj), Mayim Bialik (Amy), and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette), as well as many other cast, crew, and show-runners. It is just a bit heartwarming to see these stars give a little back to the community and their fans.

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Giving back to the community and fans that helped grow a TV show and, arguably, inspire a new generation of STEM students is certainly a first. No other TV show in history has been associated with any endowment of this sort.

The endowment will be distributed amongst 20 new students this year, ceremonially on set in Burbank, CA. All cast and crew will attend this event. The endowment will also tack on 5 new students each academic year.

Ed. Note: There is little information about the pay structure, but as djublonskopf points out, typically endowments are paid out in installments where either the principal is kept intact while investment income is used to fund the endowment, or the principal is paid in smaller installments. This post will update once more info can be found.