Sage Announces $1.5 Million Matching Gift, Reveals Anonymous Donor

June 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Troy, N.Y. -- The Sage Colleges is pleased to announce that a donor who chose to remain anonymous - until today - has given a $1.5 million matching gift to build Sages endowment and challenged Sage to raise the same amount in just six short months. Thanks to the generosity of Sages alumni and friends, Sage has raised $1.25 million as of June 1 and is on target to fulfill the match by June 30 for a total of $3 million raised.

Who is the Donor?Donna Esteves '70

The Sage champion behind this remarkable gift and bolstering challenge is Donna Esteves, chair of the Board of Trustees and a 1970 alumna of Russell Sage College.

Esteves is the Chief Financial Officer of New Jersey-based SESCO, Inc., an energy conservation company, and founder and former CEO of Free Lighting Corporation, which provides energy conservation consulting across the United States.

"I believe so strongly in Sage and what's happening here that I wanted to do something of significance to help, and at the same time help Sage get the biggest bang for the buck," Esteves said.

The former teacher and marketer turned energy entrepreneur chose to stay anonymous until the challenge was near complete. "I'm fairly well known in the Sage community, and I wanted to create a sense of mystery, excitement and urgency so that we could truly see magic happen at Sage."

Why Today?

Esteves agreed to be revealed as the source of the gift and challenge because this is her 40th Reunion year and at Reunion, class gift amounts are announced and celebrated. With her $1 million gift already matched by the June 1 deadline, the Class of 1970's gift was sure to beg explanation. She finally agreed to let Sage announce and honor her for her overwhelming generosity.

"This is not only a remarkable gift," said Sage President Susan Scrimshaw. "The manner in which Donna chose to give this gift inspired confidence and generosity from Sage alumni and friends and added to the momentum for excellence and growth at Sage. We are accomplishing more, and faster, than could reasonably be expected."

How Did $1.5 Million Become $3 Million?

Esteves initially offered $1 million in January 2010 if Sage could get donors to match that amount by June 1. She was so impressed with Sages success raising a matching $1 million by mid-May that she extended the challenge to include an additional $500,000 in dollar-for-dollar matches of gifts and pledges made by June 30.

How Much of a Difference Does This Make?

This gift and challenge is a significant addition to Sage's endowment. A well-funded endowment provides budget stability even during economic challenges, and is essential to Sage's continued progress. The endowment fund is managed so that five percent of the return on investment provides annual monies for student scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, and operating expenses. The rest is reinvested.


The Sage Colleges is an independent private institution of higher education comprised of three colleges: Russell Sage College, a comprehensive, undergraduate college for women in Troy, NY; Sage College of Albany, a coeducational undergraduate college of applied studies in Albany, NY; and the Sage Graduate Schools of Education, Health Sciences, and Management, operating on both campuses and offering applied master's and doctoral degrees. Through Sage College of Albany's Sage After Work program, working adults with college credit or an associate degree can earn their bachelor's while working full time.