More than 50 years ago, the family of Richard and Gerald Schopinksy needed financial aid to send their boys to SUNY Cobleskill.
The two brothers are now helping other families in the same situation. The Schopinsky Family Foundation last week presented $1 million to the college for scholarships.
The donation, the second large contribution by the family, will be used over the next decade to fund the Schopinsky Scholars program.
The large grant is part of the family's continuing commitment to SUNY Cobleskill. In 2005, Richard, class of '60, and Gerald, class of '61, donated at the time what was the largest gift ever to the college.
That endowment was used to establish the Schopinsky Family Scholarship Endowment.
Recipients of those scholarships must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher and be active on campus and in the community, as the Schopinskys were.
Since its inception, the bequest has funded more than 50 scholarships to students, many of whom wrote letters to the brothers.
"The letters--expressing sincere gratitude--I have received from these students have meant more to me than words can adequately convey," Gerald said.
"With the rising cost fo a college education, the financial need is evident. Richard and I are so privileged to be in a position to help."
Last week's donation by the Schopinsky Family Foundation is expected to provide annual contributions of more than $100,000 for the new Schopinsky Scholars program.
The grants will be available in the 2015-16 school year.
The scholarship may be awarded to students seeking an Associate's Degree or Bachelor's Degree in any field as long as they meet criteria set by the donors.
Students can receive scholarships for four years.
"We wanted to create a meaningful scholarship program that would help the college attract the best and brightest," said Richard.
"Knowing that they can receive what is in effect a four-year scholarship should encourage many high-achieving students to take a serious look at SUNY Cobleskill."
Richard, Gerald and their late brother Tom, who also attended SUNY Cobleskill, grew up in a loving home with caring parents. But they couldn't afford college without help.
"We learned discipline, focus, compassion. We learned how to learn," said Richard.
"We are so thankful that others cared about us and wanted to help. We want to repay that concern by helping students today."
The brothers hope their gift inspires others to donate, too.
"We hope other alums, those who received help, and those who are receiving help today, will do the same," Gerald said.
"We can never fully repay what others have done for us--the difference they have made in our lives--but we can always pay it forward by helping someone else."
Grateful for the brothers' generosity, Debra Thatcher, SUNY Cobleskill's acting president, said the donation will aid many students.
"The Schopinsky family understands that a college education opens doors and fulfills dreams," Dr. Thatcher said.
"The SUNY Cobleskill campus community is immensely grateful for their selflessness and support."
For more information about this scholarship, call the Office of College Advancement at 255-5524.