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A 50th Anniversary Challenge

Two PD supporters offer matching gifts in honor of the school’s milestone year.

Providence Day’s 50th anniversary celebration brings opportunities to recognize a half-century tradition of philanthropy among the school’s families, alumni, faculty, staff and friends.

In honor of the milestone, two community members each offered “challenge matches” worth $50,000 in hopes of inspiring others to give to the 2020-21 Annual Fund, which supports the school’s operating budget and every aspect of teaching and learning at PD.

Michael DeMayo and Cynthia Heath each had their own path that motivated them to launch their giving matches - but they share between them a common love for Providence Day and the experiences it has brought to members of their families. They each shared the personal stories that inspired them to give back.

Cynthia Heath

Cynthia Heath believes in investing not only in her own community but also in the communities of those she loves. Providence Day is a philanthropic priority for her because of the impact the school and this community has on her three grandsons, Braden ’25, David ’25, and Henry ’29 and their family. “Providence Day provides numerous opportunities for my grandsons to learn new skills and enhance their own talents,” said Cynthia. 

“I have so many fond memories at PD from my time in the carpool line, visiting classrooms, attending football games and other activities,” Heath said. “Some of my favorite memories are attending Lower School Grandparents Days. Watching my grandsons having fun dancing, singing and showing athletic skills are priceless memories!” 

Once again, Heath is offering a Challenge Match in honor of the school’s 50th birthday and in support of the PD Annual Fund. Her $50,000 challenge will match gifts from grandparents up to $50,000. “This is my third challenge grant, and our PD grandparents generously met both of the first two challenges,” Heath said. “Thank you, my fellow grandparents!” 

Heath began her career as a social science teacher before pursuing a career as an attorney. However, her passion for education has continued all along and is evident in the ways she serves both her local community and the communities of her two daughters Heather and Ashley and her five grandchildren. “I participate in many ways by serving on boards and providing financial support, all education related,” said Heath. 

She hopes PD grandparents will consider the impact they have on their grandchild’s community through their involvement and philanthropic support. Heath now believes that where her children and grandchildren live, are also her communities. She wants their communities to grow and thrive. “I believe our investments as grandparents in our grandchildren’s schools and local nonprofits are important to their well-being,” she said. “I encourage grandparents to open their hearts and see what their gift means to their grandchildren and where they live.” 

“My wish for the school is to continue to build on its 50 years of success and to work to provide an exceptional education for Charlotte area children no matter their economic circumstance, ethnic or religious background,” Cynthia said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the PD community and to be able to partner with the school in its mission.”

Michael A. DeMayo

Michael A. DeMayo has been a vocal and passionate champion for the Annual Fund since his family joined the PD community in the 2011-12 school year. For the tenth consecutive year, DeMayo, father of Michael Cole ’18, Blake ’20, Sophia ’20, and Olivia ’23, has offered a challenge match with hopes of inspiring fellow parents to join him in supporting the mission of PD via the Annual Fund. He has created a tradition that has given the Annual Fund campaign momentum every year, and this year was no exception. In honor of PD’s 50th anniversary, Michael offered a $50,000 challenge match that was enthusiastically embraced and exceeded by the parent community this fall, propelling the 2020-21 Annual Fund campaign toward its goal of raising $1,425,000.

DeMayo shared that education and the opportunity he was given are the only reasons he is able to give back. “Education is the fundamental building block upon which everything builds in life,” he says. He offered that he has two favorite quotes: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” from Nelson Mandela, and “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul,” author unknown. He notes you put those two quotes together and “you understand my philosophy about giving. Providence Day has been an exceptional experience for my whole family, and I can’t imagine not supporting an institution that has contributed so much to my family and the community the way PD has.”

“I initially chose Providence Day for my family because there was a special quality about the teachers, administration, parents, and kids,” said DeMayo. “There was a collaborative, giving, caring, and kind approach to teaching and nurturing children into young adults. Teaching and learning academic information and data is one thing, but when you can also learn and develop critical thinking skills, that sets you apart. I knew my kids would develop those skills at Providence Day because their focus was on the whole person.” 

DeMayo also supported the recent Charging Forward campaign and through his generous philanthropic support the DeMayo Gateway Center which now houses the school’s Admissions and College Guidance offices and serves as a central location for visitors to campus. 

Some of DeMayo’s best memories of Providence Day are centered around the partnership he had and has with the PD faculty while trying to raise four children as a single parent. “The education of children is a community effort,” DeMayo said. “It truly takes a village. On more than a few occasions the PD team made me aware of issues and trends that needed my attention that would never have seen the light of day but for the collaboration and communication.”

DeMayo credits those who took a chance and invested in him as a student with inspiring him to give back. “I got a shot at a different life because I was offered financial support to continue my education. I feel an obligation to pay it forward tenfold,” he said. 

“The idea of making my donations automatically double has always been a signature of my charitable giving,” said DeMayo. “I hope that by example, I can inspire others to join me in habitually and consistently giving. Our obligation is to inspire, invest, and contribute to the PD experience and together I think we are on a pretty good trajectory.”

“The thought of what awaits PD in the next 50 years brings feelings of intense anticipation and enthusiasm!” he continues. “Given our current progress and national reputation and prestige as a national educational powerhouse now means that what awaits us in the future is nothing short of extraordinary!” 

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