By Molly McCarthy, Writer-Editor, Office of Communications, Le Moyne College
When Martino Laterza ’19 first stepped onto the Le Moyne College campus in Syracuse, NY in August 2015, he vowed to make the most of his Jesuit education. Laterza has made good on that promise, enthusiastically embracing every opportunity presented to him. A dual major in management and leadership and human resource management, he serves as a marketing and development intern at Syracuse’s Museum of Science and Technology (MOST); resident advisor in Nelligan Hall; president and founder of the nonprofit organization, Arts in Action; and vice president of club development for the Student Government Association.
The more involved Laterza became at Le Moyne, the more he realized that if it weren’t for generous alumni and friends who support the College financially, he would not have enjoyed any of those experiences. Benefactors make countless student experiences possible, from research to service trips to study abroad. The belief these individuals have in the College’s mission – and in the power of a Le Moyne education to shape lives – inspired Laterza to take on one more commitment as a founding member of the College’s Student Alumni Leadership Training (SALT) program.
Now in its second year, SALT lies at the heart of the College’s advancement initiatives. The program teaches students like Laterza about the role philanthropy plays in ensuring that the College will continue to thrive for generations to come. It provides them with an opportunity to interact with alumni and friends who support the College, to thank them for their gifts, and to share news from Le Moyne. By extension, SALT promotes a culture of giving and prepares today’s students to become tomorrow’s active, engaged alumni volunteers. Students participating in SALT learn that every contribution serves as a powerful testament to the donor’s belief in the power of a Le Moyne education to shape lives – and entire communities.
“SALT teaches students about the power of giving in a way that is both personal and meaningful. What’s more, it enables them to play a role in ensuring the future vitality of their College, which one day will be their alma mater,” said Bill Brower, vice president for communications and advancement. “As they have conversations with alumni and others who volunteer, advise and philanthropically support Le Moyne, students gain a deeper appreciation for the investment that benefactors are making in them and in their future. I hope that will inspire these young men and women to give back themselves one day in whatever way they can.”
The SALT program has two principle initiatives – the Senior Gift and Giving Day.
The Senior Gift enables members of the graduating class to leave something to the College that is personally significant to them. The Class of 2017 contributed more than $12,000 to support the Matt Shaw Fund and the Professor David Smith Fund, which provide students with financial assistance to take part in opportunities that broaden their academic experience, such as research or courses that include travel. The Class of 2017 set a participation record, with more than 50 percent of its members making a senior gift. Meanwhile, the Class of 2018 hopes to surpass that, with a goal of 51 percent of the members of the class making a gift.
Giving Day encourages alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students to reinforce their belief in the power of a Le Moyne education by making a gift within a specified 24-hour period. During the third-annual giving day, held on February 28, 1,500 donors completed gifts totaling over $500,000 in just 24 hours--far surpassing the goal of 1,400 gifts. The members of SALT helped to spread the word about Giving Day through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and produced thank-you videos for many of the donors.
Laterza contributed to that success. A week before Giving Day, he took over the College’s Instagram account, taking viewers on a virtual tour of a day in his life, as he worked at the MOST, joked with friends in the College’s LaCasse Dining Center, and attended his arts administration class. He reflected upon the opportunities that he and his classmates have had to learn and grow, in large part thanks to the commitment that donors have made to them.
“None, and I mean none, of the opportunities my classmates and I have had would be possible if people didn’t give back to Le Moyne,” he said. “Whether it's money, time or knowledge, there are plenty of ways to give back. Without alumni involvement, I may have never found my internship at the MOST. Without money, we wouldn’t be able to fund the 83 student organizations on campus. And without time, I wouldn’t have gotten all the professional advice that I have from alumni and mentors. I am proud to be able to continue this tradition.”