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Trustee launches BU’s second annual million-dollar challenge

Richard Cohen will match new and increased gifts, donating up to $1 million to scholarships

| Bostonia Web Exclusive

Trustee Richard Cohen (CGS’67, SMG’69) has pledged to match gifts to BU, up to a total of $1M.

A BU trustee has issued the BU community a philanthropic challenge. Until June 30, Richard Cohen (CGS’67, SMG’69) will match new and increased gifts to the University’s Annual Fund with an equal donation to scholarships, up to $1 million.

The challenge could raise $2 million for financial aid and other University initiatives in three months.

A similar challenge by trustee Sidney Feltenstein (COM’62) and his wife, Lisa, generated more than $1.6 million in gifts in 2009.

Cohen chose to support scholarship with his matching gift because, he says, providing educational opportunities for young people not only contributes to their success, but also “puts something back into society. Education shouldn’t be confined to those students who have the economic means. It’s critical that it be spread to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it.”

“Richard Cohen has not only consistently demonstrated his generosity to Boston University, he has done so in ways that offer direct and immediate benefits to our students,” says President Robert A. Brown. “This gift comes at a time when many young people need additional assistance to complete their education, and I am sure this will make all the difference for many students — now and in the years to come.”

A self-described “uninspired” student during his grammar school and high school years in Brookline, Massachusetts, Cohen credits Boston University with opening his mind. “The BU I know gives students opportunities that they couldn’t get elsewhere,” he says. Diverse academic offerings “allow young people not only to experiment, but to find a real path for themselves. That’s what happened with me.”

Eight years after graduating from BU with a degree in business administration, Cohen founded Capital Properties Associates. Since then, the Manhattan-based company has managed 17,000 apartment units and 8.5 million square feet of office space in major markets across the country.

Cohen has actively supported BU for more than fifteen years. He joined the University’s board of trustees in 2006, and that year endowed the Richard D. Cohen Professorship at the School of Management. In 2009, Cohen established the Richard D. Cohen Scholarship, which provides financial support to ten undergraduates across schools and class years.

“The whole point of giving is to make a difference,” says Cohen, who is not only the issuer of the Cohen Challenge, but its first donor. He increased his own yearly Annual Fund gift this spring — then gave again to match the increase. “Giving it through BU and this kind of scholarship will have a major impact,” he says. “That’s important to me, and that’s why I’ve done it.”

For more information about the Cohen Challenge, visit www.bu.edu/doubleit. To read more about the Annual Fund and how BU’s schools and colleges use donations, visit www.bu.edu/annualfund.

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