Generosity of Former Resident Creates Large Scholarship in Cayuga County

$3 Million Fund will Award Scholarships in Auburn & Union Springs Districts

November 12, 2015 – Graduates of Union Springs Central and Auburn Enlarged City School districts now have a new opportunity to assist with college costs thanks to a large scholarship fund established by a man who sought to instill the value of a good education in students living in the region where he grew up.

After the February 2015 passing of Donald Trufant, a graduate of Union Springs’ Class of 1950, the Trufant Family Fund was augmented with a more than $2.7 million bequest gift to the Central New York Community Foundation. The fund, which was originally established at the Community Foundation when Don was still living, now totals more than $3 million.

The fund will award $20,000 and $40,000 scholarships this spring to graduating seniors of both Union Springs and Auburn high schools. The award amount and number of scholarships awarded will likely grow over time. Scholarship selection committees at each school will choose the recipients. The Community Foundation recently informed officials from both districts officials of the gift, who were thrilled when informed of the opportunity for their students.

“Mr. Trufant walked the halls of Union Springs as a student, and we are grateful that this experience and connection inspired him to give back to his alma mater in this extraordinary way,” said Jarrett Powers, Superintendent, Union Springs Central School District. “This gift will be transformational for the students of our district.”

Don grew up on a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes region, graduating from Union Springs before entering the Air Force and serving in the Korean War. He went on to work in the banking industry, most recently serving as Executive Vice President at Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust in Baltimore. His family did not come from wealth; Don’s hard work and determination helped him develop a successful career that allowed him to be charitable.

Don’s long-time friend and attorney, Cela Burge, described him as incredibly honest and unassuming.

“He was a generous, thoughtful man,” she said. “If he saw an opportunity to be kind and giving to someone or an organization serving a great purpose, he would do it.”

Although he lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for many years, Don never forgot Central New York, the place of his roots. He visited often and continued to support causes in the region that were important to him and his family.

“Don’s investment in our local students is a testament to his giving spirit and desire to challenge young people to strive for their best,” said Jennifer Owens, a vice president at the Community Foundation. “This gift will have an immeasurable positive impact on the lives of many children who might otherwise not have been able to pursue their dreams.”

The Community Foundation will focus on the investment and administration of the fund so that the school scholarship selection committees can focus on selecting the scholarship recipients. Enhanced by the Community Foundation’s endowment investment and spending policy, the fund is expected to increase its award amounts over time.

”The power of endowment takes the generosity of amazing people like Don and ensures that their charitable wishes persevere through generations,” said Peter Dunn, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Don had an interest in giving back to the community he loved and he put a plan in place to make it happen. We’re honored to be the stewards of his community legacy.”

Don valued personal resiliency as a core value and the scholarship criteria bear this out. Award recipients will be in the top 20 percent of their class, and will be the type of students who perceive a challenge as an opportunity for success.

“A world of possibility opens up for a student who receives this kind of financial support to follow their dreams,” said Jeff Pirozzolo, Superintendent, Auburn Enlarged City School District. “We are so thankful that Mr. Trufant chose to invest in the future of our city’s children in this way.”

While he never attended college himself, Don considered himself a life-long learner, believing that education was the way towards a fulfilling and prosperous life. Now, generations of students from Cayuga County will have the opportunity to advance their educations thanks to his foresight and giving nature.

“Don thought education was important, so he put his heart and soul into it,” said Cela. “He thought being kind and generous was important, so that is how his actions followed. Those things that were so part of the fiber of his being will continue through this scholarship fund. I hope he is never forgotten.”

About the Central New York Community Foundation

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of nearly $190 million. It awarded $9.9 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested more than $135 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 700 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.


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