Junior year was a life-changing experience for one member of Barnard’s Class of 2001—but not in the way one might expect.
For this alumna, who prefers to remain anonymous, her third year at Barnard was not focused on studying abroad or applying for the perfect internship. Instead, she faced unexpected major surgery.
“When I found out that I needed to take the semester off,” she recalls, “I went right into the dean’s office and he walked me through the whole process. My adviser was also 100 percent behind me. They made sure that dealing with school was the least stressful part of what I was going through.
“Going to Barnard saved me in so many ways,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine having the same experience at another school. I always tell people that Barnard gives you the full realm of support that you need—and that I continue to appreciate it today.” To show her gratitude, she designated Barnard as a beneficiary when she drafted her will, and Barnard still holds a place now.
Barnard recognizes how meaningful this form of giving is and recently launched The Bold Impact Challenge, a new planned giving program that enables alumnae to support students of today and tomorrow. Alumnae can set up a planned gift, or report a previously established planned gift, and a contribution equal to 10 percent of that intended gift will be made in the donor’s honor to The Bold Impact Scholarship Fund, which supports current students. (See below for more details.)
“Planned giving strengthens Barnard’s financial future and helps the College sustain its academic excellence, while giving alumnae flexible options to provide support,” says Audra Lewton, the director of gift and estate planning. “The Bold Impact Challenge provides a new opportunity for alumnae to benefit future generations without affecting their current finances, while also making an immediate impact because their gifts will increase scholarship support for deserving students today.”
Though many alumnae may not consider planned giving as an option in their 20s, 30s or 40s, the challenge is designed for alumnae of all ages who want to ensure their role in supporting Barnard’s ongoing success.
“For women of my age, it’s never too early to start thinking about what messages you want to leave behind, especially about the importance of women’s colleges,” says the ’01 alumna.
Amy P. Sung ’96, who is leaving $1 million to Barnard in her will, agrees. Now a stay-at-home mother, Sung worked in finance for more than a decade following graduation. She created her will after hearing an estate lawyer speak at a luncheon for women in finance, which helped her realize the importance of planning for the future at any age.
“Planned giving is typically not something people think about at our age, but it’s important to be prepared,” she says. “My husband and I both feel very strongly about supporting education. Women’s education is particularly important to me, and this is my way of making sure it continues.
“As someone who has benefited from financial aid, I want to make sure that future generations of young women from less advantaged or disadvantaged backgrounds have the ability to attend an institution like Barnard,” Sung says. “The fact that our planned gifts also will fund a current scholarship that will continue on is wonderful and impactful.”
Kristy Bird ’90 was able to finish college by receiving a grant from Barnard after her father became unemployed. She has made small annual gifts each year since graduation and spent “years hoping that I would have vast amounts of wealth to give to Barnard.”
After a divorce, Bird realized that it was time for a careful look at her estate plans. Working with a lawyer, she revised her plans to include a trust that would ultimately benefit her children, but she also decided to set aside a portion of the future trust assets for Barnard.
Bird says that her only initial regret in establishing a planned gift was not being able to make a more immediate contribution. But when she learned that The Bold Impact Challenge would support a current scholarship, “it was a dream come true. I can support Barnard now in a bigger way, and in the future.”
Jennifer Feierman ’09, who made Barnard a partial beneficiary on an employee-benefit life insurance policy, considers planned giving as part of a “holistic giving experience.”
Feierman recently received an MBA from Columbia and works as a fundraiser for the university’s Fu Foundation School for Engineering and Applied Science.
“I am incredibly grateful for the education and the financial assistance I received, and for how Barnard was the springboard for me in many areas of my life. Barnard trained me in a way of thinking and working that is recognized and respected in the professional world, and allowed me to be flexible,” Feierman says. “I’m also grateful to be part of the community of Barnard women, which is the most intelligent, thoughtful and ambitious group I’ve ever met.
“For women of my generation,” she says, “even though we’re relatively young and just starting to build our careers and assets, including Barnard in our plans is a relatively simple way to lend support to the campaign and to say to the College: I’ll always earmark a place for you.”