Daemen Receives Largest Private Gift in College’s History

November 01, 2016
$1 million to support sustainability and civic engagement initiatives

AMHERST, N.Y. – Daemen College has received an unprecedented $1 million gift from the Paul A. Saffrin Foundation to support the institution’s Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement, making it the largest private gift in the college’s nearly 70-year history.

In honor of this historic gift to the college, the center has officially been renamed the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement.

“Robust civic engagement contributes to many positive social outcomes, so it is my honor and privilege to support Daemen College as it prepares students to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference in society,” said Saffrin.

In praising the generosity of Saffrin, Daemen President Gary A. Olson said the gift will have a powerful and transformative impact on the center and the college itself.

“Mr. Saffrin’s gift will enable us to advance the center’s exceptional work and help foster the spirit of civic responsibility in our students, faculty, and staff, while improving the sustainability of our communities for generations to come,” said Olson. “We are profoundly grateful and indebted to Mr. Saffrin for his gift, which is a historic moment in the life of our college.”

Dr. Michael Brogan, vice president for academic affairs, added, “With this generous donation, the center will have the resources needed to develop new efforts that emphasize the importance of sustainability, inspire global citizenship, support healthy communities, and enhance student learning.”

Established in 2001, the CSCE promotes a lifelong commitment to civic responsibility and environmental sustainability through various initiatives, including service learning opportunities with partner organizations in underserved communities, and sustainability activities and programming.

The endowed gift has been designated specifically to advance the center’s efforts and to create new opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage with communities. It will also allow the center to enhance its highly successful efforts in building a more sustainable future and addressing environmental issues to promote the well-being of communities around the world. 

With Saffrin’s gift, Daemen will be well-positioned to become a regional and national leader in facilitating civic engagement and sustainability efforts.

“We deeply appreciate Mr. Saffrin’s generous support and belief in the center’s dedication to civic engagement and sustainability,” said Maureen Millane, associate vice president for community engagement. “Thanks to this gift, we will have the opportunity to develop new initiatives and collaborations that will continue the strong momentum the center has established over the past 15 years.”

The Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement was formally established in the fall of 2001 through a grant of $600,000 from the John R. Oishei Foundation. The Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement works directly with residents and neighborhood organizations in three Buffalo communities, and partners the faculty, staff and students of Daemen College with these neighborhoods to support community driven projects that improve their quality of life.  These communities include Seneca Babcock,the Fruit Belt, and the West Side.

In addition, the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement provides educational events for the Daemen community and community at-large on issues of economic, environmental and social sustainability.Annual and on-going events include the Environmental Summit, WNY EarthDay at the Buffalo Zoo for area youth, free tax preparation through the IncomeTAXi program, and after-school programs and summer Reading Camps for neighborhood youth.

As a tribute to Daemen College’s commitment to civic engagement and community outreach, the Center was institutionalized in 2005 upon completion of the Oishei grant.Other funders through the years include the Providence Fund, Key Bank, M &T Charitable Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bettina Weary Trust, Josephine Goodyear Foundation, Fannie Mae,Children’s Foundation of Buffalo & Erie County, the Community Foundation,First Niagara Foundation and Buffalo Renaissance Foundation.      

During the spring 2013 semester, the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement created a fourth community relationship with the Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood on Buffalo's East Side. We look forward to a long and exciting partnership with this community!