Improving Literacy with a Gift that Keeps on Giving

mary kay

Mary Kay Ogden ’68, MA ’73

Mary Kay Ogden ’68, MA ’73, is leaving a legacy that ensures that her life-changing work as an educator will go on in perpetuity. 

At the University of La Verne, Mary Kay majored in English with the goal of becoming a teacher. She went on to a rewarding career in education, serving in various roles at different public school districts, such as an elementary school teacher and principal. After 31 years in the Azusa Unified School District, she became Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement in the Baldwin Park Unified School District. Early in her career, she returned to La Verne to obtain a master’s degree in Teaching with a specialization in English.

Mary Kay’s biggest passion is teaching literacy to children. As an educator, she witnessed the effectiveness of programs that took preventive measures to assist children with literacy, as opposed to trying to help them make up lost ground, when it was often too late. So when she learned about the university’s groundbreaking new Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness, she couldn’t have been more excited. The center’s mission is to support students with neurological differences—such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia—to thrive in learning and in life.

“I was extremely impressed with their methodology, which ensures that future educators can go into a classroom armed with the tools needed to ensure that all students learn to read,” Mary Kay says. “These educators are learning innovative approaches that did not exist during my teacher training.” 

Seeing how well the center’s work aligned with her own passions, Mary Kay decided to support the project by setting up an endowed fund—a fund that invests and preserves its principal while giving annually to the program from the fund’s income in perpetuity. 

To gift the required amount for an endowed fund, she took a two-part approach. On the front end, she is making annual gifts to build up the fund from her IRA using a tax-smart method known as a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). The QCD is easy to setup and fulfills her IRA’s required minimum distributions while saving her from having to pay income taxes on the amounts gifted to the university. On the back end, she has left a portion of her estate to the university in her will (also known as a bequest). This combined approach is popular with the university’s alumni and supporters because it ensures that the fund will be endowed even if it is not completely funded during a donor’s lifetime. 

Reflecting on her legacy and the “forever” impact of her gift on students’ lives, Mary Kay says: “Reading is such a gift and I think it’s extremely important. This endowed fund is an opportunity for me to give back to those children that I wasn’t able to reach when I was in public education. It feels so good to make a gift that matches my passion. I think everyone should find a program about which they are passionate and support it!”

Learn more about making a bequest here and QCD gifts here.