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Peralta Colleges Foundation Receives Surprise $250,000 Anonymous Donation

29 January 2013


Generous gift much needed and greatly appreciated by students

It was a New Year’s surprise for the Peralta Colleges Foundation on January 3, 2013, the first day back from the holidays for the new Executive Director, Romeo Garcia.

Unlike any other day, Garcia opened an envelope from the San Francisco Foundation that contained a check for $250,000. He looked at the amount and was astonished, because the Peralta Colleges Foundation had not submitted a formal request for funding. Garcia thought this might be a response to an end of the year giving request he had sent out to potential donors a few weeks earlier.

Garcia read the accompanying letter and learned that an anonymous donor decided to support the Peralta Colleges Foundation with a quarter-million dollar gift for “general support.” Having been involved in fundraising efforts before, Garcia was aware of the practice of anonymous giving, but never received a gift of this magnitude.

Immediately, Garcia remembered that in mid-December three Peralta Colleges Foundation board members had met with representatives from the San Francisco Foundation to discuss the PCF mission of helping with student scholarships and other awards for students of the four Peralta Colleges – Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney and Merritt Colleges in Oakland.

The three board members were there to begin a conversation about the needs of the foundation, and to solicit ideas and recommendations on how PCF might proceed to secure funding from any sources that might be out there. But no funding from San Francisco Foundation was requested.

Garcia called Karen Friedman, Co-President of the Peralta Colleges Foundation. Garcia then called other PCF board members, including Gay Cobb, and Co-President Gary Foss, who met with the San Francisco Foundation.

The board members attributed the gift to the long-standing relationship that Cobb has had with the San Francisco Foundation, including tenure as a member of their Board of Directors for ten years. But in fact, no one really knows how the check found its way into Garcia’s hands. How did the donor learn about the Peralta Colleges Foundation?

Friedman, however, said, “Gay was instrumental in our getting the grant from the San Francisco Foundation.”

The badly needed funds will be used to build the capacity of the Peralta Colleges Foundation, so it can help students in need. PCF is also seeking to create an alumni database to encourage the tens of thousands of former students from the four Peralta Colleges to become involved in helping today’s Peralta Community College District students with the high cost of education.

“This anonymous gift provides the financial resources we need to help us build capacity at the Peralta Colleges Foundation,” Garcia said, adding, “These funds will help us to leverage additional support to increase funding for scholarships and initiatives that promote student success,” Garcia added.

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Peralta News – Director of Peralta Colleges Foundation to Receive Distinguished Honor

11 October 2011. 1 comment

The Peralta Community College District is pleased to announce that Stephanie Casenza, Executive Director of The Peralta Colleges Foundation, has been selected to receive the San Diego Press Club’s 2011 Andy Mace Award for Outstanding Contributions in Public Relations during its annual Excellence in Journalism Celebration on October 25, 2011. Casenza spent much of her career in the San Diego region before joining the Peralta Colleges Foundation in June 2010.

The Andy Mace Award is one of three special awards presented in recognition of excellence by the San Diego Press Club.  This award is given to the individual public relations practitioner who, over the course of their career, has exemplified fairness and integrity, as well as effectively disseminating the truth to concerned publics.  Past recipients who have received the award comprise the committee that selects each year’s winner.

“It is such an honor to have your peers nominate you for this prestigious award,” says Stephanie, “and it’s a pleasant surprise, too.”

“Ms. Casenza was appointed to the position of Executive Director for The Peralta Colleges Foundation a little over a year ago,” says PCF Board of Directors President Karen Friedman. “We’re happy to have her on board and congratulate her on being selected for this honor.”

Casenza has worked in the non-profit field for 25 years.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and a master’s in business from the University of San Diego.  She is among the two percent of public relations professionals who have earned the universal accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America.

Since 1964, the Peralta Community College District – Berkeley City College, College of Alameda and Laney and Merritt Colleges – has served Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Piedmont by providing East Bay students of all ages with a range of educational programs and life-long learning opportunities.  To learn more, visit

Filed under: Announcements, Peralta Colleges Foundation, Peralta News. Tagged: , , ,

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  • Peralta Community College District is comprised of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College. Together they provide northern Alameda County a range of educational programs and life-long learning opportunities.
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