The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $10 million to the University's Financial Aid Endowment Tuesday, just a week after its $15-million gift to the new DukeEngage service learning initiative was announced.

The most recent contribution puts Duke $216 million toward President Richard Brodhead's goal of raising $300 million for financial aid by the end of 2008.

"Fundamentally, students who earn admission to Duke should be able to pursue their education regardless of financial barriers," Melinda Gates, the foundation's co-chair, said in a statement. "We are proud to support this initiative and Duke's commitment to enroll more students from a wide range of backgrounds."

Of the $10 million donation, $9 million will be used for undergraduate financial aid and the remaining $1 million will be aimed at helping students in the Fuqua School of Business.

The donations likely will be issued in need-based grants, said John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations.

He added that donations like those of the Gates Foundation are a way for Duke's donors to show support for the University's goals.

"In a case like this, it's a real statement of confidence in the University," Burness said. "When people give money, in large or small amounts, they are investing in this University."

Financial aid has been a high priority for both Brodhead and the Gates Foundation, Burness said.

Brodhead announced the $300-million Financial Aid Initiative in 2005.

Of that total, $245 million will be set aside for undergraduates, including $15 million for athletic scholarships.

The remaining $55 million will be given to graduate and professional school students.

"Duke offers significant financial aid to its students, but our endowment for aid covers only a portion of the need," Brodhead said in a statement. "By significantly strengthening Duke's permanent support for financial aid, donors like the Gates Foundation are doing something crucial not only for the university and its students, but also for the many people its graduates will serve in the years ahead."