Despite their own limited resources, Sally A. and Albert W. Kaider always made helping meet the needs of others a priority. Their legacies will now be honored as the new name of the Business for a Better World Impact Fellows 2021-2022 First Year Experience. The generous gift to the program was made by their daughter and son-in-law, Sheryl and Bill Magro.
Launched in the fall of 2020 out of the Business for a Better World Center (B4BW) at the George Mason University School of Business, the Impact Fellows Program was created to help first-year students from underrepresented groups develop the skills required to take on the grand challenges the world faces today. Over two years, the Fellows learn about the United Nations sustainable development goals and how they can directly drive social change. Co-Executive Director of the Business for a Better World Center Anne Magro is the daughter of Sheryl and Bill Magro. Always ones to give back, Sheryl and Bill were galvanized by Anne’s enthusiasm for the program, finding that its mission was very much aligned with their own views.
“I have an enormous amount of respect for Sheryl’s parents, who really epitomized the true spirit of giving, especially Sally,” says Bill Magro. “Here was a woman who literally took off her new coat in the freezing Western Michigan winter and gave it to someone in need.” While the Kaiders were challenged to pay their own bills, they never failed to help those around them experiencing even greater need. That sense of responsibility for those in need has been passed down to their daughter and son-in-law. From funding a free dental clinic to stocking food pantries, Sheryl and Bill consistently step in to meet immediate needs. This gift addresses the inequities in the system that lead to those needs. Sheryl and Bill are quick to note that they didn’t decide on the gift because of their daughter’s involvement, but Anne’s passion for the program was highly contagious.
Still in its infant stages, the success of the program is so far best characterized by feedback from students. Ashanti Martin, a sophomore studying marketing, credits Impact Fellows with opening her eyes to sustainability practices. “I’ve gained a great understanding of the United Nations sustainable development goals, and I know that I can take those practices to companies I work at in the future,” says Martin. “Another takeaway from Impact Fellows was learning about cultural intelligence and different forms of bias.” Selassie Fugar, a sophomore studying business analytics, also interns in the B4BW’s Summer Team Impact Program project. “It’s been an amazing program with faculty who have been so helpful in setting me up with the right resources and internships,” says Fugar. “I don’t think I would have been able to make those connections without Impact Fellows.”
First-generation students represent a significant portion of the School of Business, and the Magros can’t help but find themselves relating to them. “Our students really mirror my parents’ experiences, as my mom was the first in her family to go to college, and my dad was in the first generation to graduate from college in his family too,” says Anne Magro. “My mother worked to make sure that people’s immediate needs were met, and then also their needs to sustain themselves in the future, whether that be through job training or education,” says Sheryl Magro. “My husband and I passed the value of education down to our children, and now it’s really come full circle, with this program being named in my parents’ honor.”
Sheryl and Bill Magro see their gift to Impact Fellows as an investment, and the objective is twofold—equip students with the tools they need to sustain success in their own lives and act as catalysts in solving many of the world’s most pressing problems. With this generous commitment they would like to inspire further giving and are challenging donors to also support the Impact Fellows program. Through this commitment we have the opportunity to double their gift (up to $30,000) by providing matching funding between now and August 16, enabling more students to thrive. In the end, the Magros hope that their gift motivates others to pay it forward, just like Sally and Albert Kaider always did.