Flexible giving supports students like Carley Salerno ’23.

By Carol Marcy

Kathy Acierno Baron ’83 was the first in her family to graduate college and is still a passionate supporter of SUNY Geneseo. Although she has created two endowed scholarships, the Excellence in Residence Life Leadership Annual Scholarship and The Acierno Family Scholarship, Baron also makes donations to Geneseo that provide flexibility. Those gifts are for use at the college’s discretion.

“The contributions I make to ‘where needs are greatest’ are so important to the College because it gives the school the ability to respond to unanticipated opportunities and needs and meet students where they are,” says Baron, a member of Geneseo’s Foundation Board of Directors and a vice president of Pearl Meyer, a national firm that advises global clients and businesses on leadership, executive and broad-based compensation.

One student who has benefited from flexible donations is Carley Salerno ’23. She is one of 132 Edgar Fellows honors program recipients, all of whom are supported by generous unrestricted donations from Baron and others.

“The affordability of Geneseo actually gave me a way to come to college, and the Edgar Fellows award I received really helped,” says Salerno, who is also a first-generation student. She is glad to ease the financial strain of attending college. Her mom, she says, always wanted to go to college and was very supportive of her and her sister, encouraging them to take AP courses in high school and saving up for tuition.

Salerno is a political science and French double major and works as a French tutor. She was drawn to political science because she wants to help improve education accessibility. “There’s such a barrier between who could (and could not) access higher education,” Salerno says. “I really like the concept of reforming education through policy and politics in general.”

Salerno plans to go to law school after Geneseo and combine it with her French background in a career. “My goal is to work for the United Nations Development Program to further education in less developed countries — or something internationally of that nature.”

Thanks to flexible donations that support the Edgar Fellows program, recipients like Salerno receive $1,000 per semester for up to eight semesters. “I use it for expenses like rent, textbooks — whatever it may be, so that is very helpful,” says Salerno.

Last year, nearly 30 percent of donors chose to make flexible donations and have Geneseo choose where the support would be best used.

Flexible gifts strengthen the college’s ability to quickly pivot to support our most critical priorities and respond to opportunities and needs as they arise,” says Ellen Leverich ’90, vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the Geneseo Foundation.

Donors Give More than $1.1 Million to Geneseo through the SUNY Impact Foundation Program

SUNY Geneseo recently received more than $1.1 million in gifts, thanks to alumni and other generous donors who participated in a special New York State tax credit program offered through the SUNY Impact Foundation. All donors who made a gift through that foundation received a large deduction and credit on their state tax filing. Twenty-one SUNY institutions participated, and Geneseo received the third-highest dollars raised from gifts.

“The impact of donors’ cash gifts will be felt across campus immediately,” says Ellen Leverich ’90, vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the Geneseo Foundation. “It’s also significant that two-thirds of donors made their gifts for unrestricted use by the College. These flexible gifts allow us to better fund students, faculty, and programs or unforeseen challenges that come our way.”

Additional areas of support included scholarships, athletics, the Career Design Center, the School of Business, student emergency funds, political science, philosophy and art history.