Skip to Content

Gift Planning

Cynthia Shaw Simonoff

Scholarship Recipient Gives Back to Future Generations of DU Students

Cynthia Shaw Simonoff

Written 11-10-2011

How did your experience at DU benefit you after graduation?

I came to NY immediately upon graduation and actually missed commencement. I think the combination of being introduced to big city, cosmopolitan students as well as being nurtured in a small music department helped me to adjust to the complicated, and oftentimes overwhelming life of the city. My DU piano teacher, Mr. Aybar, had grown up in New York and studied with Dora Zaslovsky at The Manhattan School of Music. So it was to her that I went to continue my piano studies. There I met a whole network of pianists who became my friends. Dora held weekly piano and dinner soirees in her Central Park West apartment. Not only did I get to play in front of colleagues, but well-known piano students of hers would pop in and perform as well. We all went to every piano recital we could at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Did you receive a scholarship and/or did you have a job while going to school?

Yes. I had an accompanying grant, a scholarship from the Methodist Church (to which I belonged) and a couple of other scholarships. I could not have afforded DU without this financial aid. I also worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy family in Cherry Hills and eventually worked about 20 hours a week as a sales clerk in the linen department at the May D&F in University Hills.

What has motivated you to "give back" to DU?

My husband and I were putting our Wills together and discovered, because we do not have children, that after giving set amounts to various family member and charities, there was still a residual amount left. Our lawyer suggested we find one place to put this amount. I had already been approached by Joseph McKay about leaving money in my estate for DU which would be matched, doubling my contribution. I had already done this. But now there was the residual to earmark. I had originally thought of leaving this money to my Pueblo high school alumni association for music and theatre scholarships, but they had only recently formed a 501(c)3 and were in no way experienced enough to deal with a large sum of money. Then I thought of DU and the scholarships I had received there as a student. Through discussions with Joe, found that not only would the school match my contribution, but that student scholarships could be made immediately. I was thrilled. It is so wonderful to know that I am able to give students who are like me, talented, but not able to afford private school tuition, the ability to afford going to a top-notch college. I am so happy that I am able to help a young person start their life with solid schooling by helping to make college affordable.

What is your hope for your scholarships and its student recipients?

I hope that the scholarships will allow talented Pueblo music and theatre students to attend DU.

What would you tell other potential donors about making a bequest like yours?

I would like to tell them that never in my life did I dream that I could make this kind of contribution to a young person. I have always been the struggling artist, my husband a high school math teacher, and so we never thought of ourselves as a rich people. But because we own an apartment and have no children to leave our estate, we will be able to make a difference in a young person's life, just as others made a difference in our lives through grants and scholarships: people we didn't even know. Joe McKay at DU made the working out of the details so pleasant and easy. And every question my lawyer and I had about the residual estate and scholarships was honestly answered to our satisfaction. I would encourage anyone who has a similar background to ours to contact the estate planning office at DU and find out what the possibilities are. I think it is really a miracle.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to University of Denver a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to University of Denver, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 2199 S. University Blvd. Denver CO 80208, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the University or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the University as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the University as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the University where you agree to make a gift to the University and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.