A family’s values play a large role in many aspects of life, and it’s no different when it comes to philanthropy. Philanthropy connects families and different generations with the effect that they have on their community. When these groups come together toward a shared goal or vision, they can make a difference for years to come.

This is what makes generational giving so special.

One family that exemplifies what it means to share the same love for the community and philosophy around giving back is the Steins. Dr. Gerald and Sylvia Stein were active members of the Centre County community, and their son, Steven, continues their charitable legacy.

Sylvia studied engineering at Penn State in the 1940s as part of the Curtis Wright Fellowship Program and received multiple degrees, including a postdoc fellowship in barology. She went on to serve as the director of the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium from 1990-1993. As an accomplished woman in Centre County, Sylvia was dedicated to education and valued organizations like Schlow Centre Region Library and State College Area School District.

For Sylvia, the success of women in society and in science was very important.

“She was a person who believed in herself and women having a role in society…Her commitment to the community was twofold, it was a commitment to women and a commitment to education. She believed in education and the Centre County community as a vessel for education,” said Steven.

Dr. Gerald Stein, Sylvia’s husband, was just as committed to giving back. Not only did he give to a variety of charities and serve on the boards of organizations such as the Friends of Palmer Museum of Art, but he also established two funds at Centre Foundation to honor Sylvia. The Gerald B.M. and Sylvia Stein Fund benefits the State College Area School District, while the Sylvia Stein Memorial – Schlow Library Endowment Fund supports the purchase of books, materials, and programs for Schlow Library.

According to Steven, Centre Foundation was the clear avenue for his father to benefit the entire community with these funds.

“It’s the more obvious choice when you’re trying to benefit the community as a whole. It reaches so many places. My father gave to every charity you could imagine in the most full way…This was one way for him to reach out to the entire community,” he said.

Steven learned his love for philanthropy through his parents and continues to give back to the community he grew up in. Even though he hasn’t lived in State College since he was 18 years old, he continues to donate to the Gerald B.M. and Sylvia Stein Fund.

“I love the community. It means a lot to me, and I want to honor their memory and that’s where their memory resides,” said Steven.

He honors their memories by making an impact through the organizations and causes that meant the most to his parents.

“Like my father, I think of the foundation and the fund as something that enables a lot of different functions within the community to be better. I’m not equipped to know which ones. I respect the expertise and skills of others, on where to give the money and how to best serve the community,” said Steven.

Charitable giving was a large part of Gerald and Sylvia Stein’s lives and is something that has become a part of Steven’s as well. He is determined to emulate his parents’ dedication to the community where they made their impact. In doing so Steven honors their spirit of giving and their family’s values. He hopes that his children learn the same lesson that he did from his parents: give back to the community you love.

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