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Cortland Challenge raises more than $250,000


SUNY Cortland’s annual day of giving, the Cortland Challenge, continues to grow.

This year’s event, held on June 17, raised $252,273 from 1,897 donors. The generosity of Challenge donors will benefit Cortland students and faculty for years to come.

Two of the major beneficiaries of the 2020 Cortland Challenge were the Student Emergency Fund and the Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion.

The Student Emergency Fund, which offers grants of up to $500 for students with immediate needs for childcare, food, rent, utilities or access to technology, was created in response to the struggles faced by those in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $62,966 was raised from 66 donors during the Challenge. More than $125,000 has already been distributed to students in need and the gifts received through the Challenge will support students in other ways long after the pandemic is over.

The Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion raised $13,457 from 84 Challenge gifts, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Cortland College Foundation. The fund will work proactively to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for students, faculty and staff as well as the greater Cortland community. It will provide opportunities for professional development on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, funding for bringing visiting speakers to campus and to support the annual diversity conference hosted by the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office.

“We are amazed and humbled by the support that we received during this year’s Challenge, especially for the new Student Emergency Fund and Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion initiatives,” said Natasha McFadden, associate director of The Cortland Fund. “We just want to give a huge thank you to everyone who participated in this historic fundraising event. Their generosity will go a long way in the lives of our current and future students.”

Other areas that received generous support through the Cortland Challenge include:

  • Athletic funds: $141,320 from 1,850 gifts.
  • The Cortland Fund: $21,088 from 172 gifts.
  • Academic departments: $7,346 from 35 gifts.
  • Scholarships: $4,540 from 10 gifts.

SUNY Cortland would like to thank its alumni and friends who provided significant matching gifts on Challenge Day.

Jason Barrett ’08, Louise Conley, Mike Leeolou ’81 and Catherine Leeolou ’81, Anthony Moon ’86 and Susan Moon, Patrick Mullaney ’89, Victor Rumore ’84, Jeanne Specchio ’82 and David Turybury ’90 and Sheila Turybury all contributed gifts toward the Student Emergency Fund.

A donation from Gerry Proehl ’81 and Pam Proehl ’82 backed the general athletics challenge.

The total raised in the 2020 Cortland Challenge set a record for Red Dragon generosity. One year ago, 2,072 donors combined to raise $210,947 toward the needs of SUNY Cortland students. In 2018, $151,360 was raised via 1,384 donors.

Learn more about how the Cortland Challenge helps SUNY Cortland and its students and faculty achieve its goals at

Read messages of gratitude from students who have received emergency fund grants in our Cortland Challenge Thank You video: