Catching Up with Steven Bralove ’60

Steven Bralove ’60 (P ’89, ’92; GP ’26, ’29) truly is a Sidwell Friends lifer. In 1946, Steve became a member of the Sidwell Friends community as a student in the first kindergarten class, back when the School had a unified campus. Fourteen years later, he walked down the Zartman steps for his graduation in 1960, having spent his entire academic career at Sidwell Friends. Steve took on a new role as a Sidwell Friends parent when his daughters, Mara ’89 and Brooke ’92, enrolled at the School and continued on to become lifers. Today, Steve is a Sidwell Friends grandparent as well—three of his grandchildren are currently students.

Steve has also been a longtime leader within the community: serving on the Board of Trustees for ten years, contributing every year to the Annual Fund, and creating a family endowed fund.   

This past year, as he celebrated the 60th anniversary of his Sidwell Friends graduation, Steve shared memories of his experiences at the School and why he chose to make a new planned gift this year.

When you think about your experiences as a student and as an alumnus, what do you hope current and future generations will be able to experience?

The first thing that comes to mind is Quaker Meeting for Worship. Before the old gym, which is now gone, there was an old, old gym that had a fireplace. We would have Meeting for Worship in front of that fireplace, and with a fire when the weather allowed.

I learned a lot of lessons about life while at Sidwell Friends. I learned how to win gracefully, like when our baseball team twice won the IAC championship. I also remember losing the election for president of the student council in my senior year, after years of being the class president. While it was a painful lesson, learning and growing from defeat was an important part of my education.

Recently, my class got together virtually for our 60th Reunion. It was great to see people I was friends with back in school, and also to hear from people I didn’t know as well back then who ended up having such interesting lives.

I’ve realized that no matter what your experience is at Sidwell Friends, it forms the foundation for who you are and will become.

In addition to being a student and alumnus, you’ve really experienced the breadth of what Sidwell Friends has to offer, because you have also been a parent, grandparent, and trustee. How did those experiences shape your relationship with or your understanding of the School?

Many of the closest friendships I formed here in the years after graduation were people who served with me on the Board of Trustees. Being involved with conscientious people who are all pulling in the same direction, and the idea that you have to have a sense of the meeting to move forward, were very important experiences.

You can see the important of Quaker values play out in the Board of Trustees. I can remember two instances where there were differences of opinion and we could not come to a sense of the meeting. Both times, the clerk paused when we came to an impasse and held those issues over until the next board meeting a month later; in both instances, that waiting period helped trustees to resolve whatever concerns and reach consensus.

It was a wonderful gift to be able to clerk the Sidwell Friends Board of Trustees for two years. It happened to coincide with the graduation of my oldest daughter and stepson. I was able to present them with their diplomas, and that was a lot of fun.

You made a generous gift this year, which coincides with your 60th Reunion. What motivated you to do so? 

It was a combination of factors: the pandemic, our 60th Reunion, and my age.

I am sure that many people recently reevaluated their personal goals and priorities. I gave two gifts to Sidwell Friends this year. One was to help Sidwell Friends at a time when the School, like other institutions, needed unusual support—and many people in this community responded by providing additional support to organizations across the country.  Sidwell Friends certainly had special needs because of COVID-19. When I learned what was needed to balance the budget this year versus other years, I decided to make an additional gift to help meet that extraordinary budgetary need.

The other thing I decided to do was add funds to the Bralove Family Scholarship. Even though the required minimum distribution (RMD) was suspended in 2020, if you are 70.5 years or older, you can make a gift to a charitable institution directly from your IRA and avoid income taxes on the withdrawal. This saves taxes even if you do not itemize. This made sense for me now, and probably will in future years.

Tell us more about the Bralove Family Scholarship. How do you hope that it and your other gift plans will better secure the future of Sidwell Friends?

When I checked the Bralove Family Scholarship endowment this year, I saw that it has grown since its establishment in 1985. Income from this endowment goes towards scholarship aid each year and will continue to do so in perpetuity. I plan to continue to add to this scholarship as part of my estate plan, with the goal that it will cover full tuition for a student each year. 

If you are concerned about estate taxes, one way to solve this problem is to spend your estate or give it away.

What advice would you give to members of the Sidwell Friends community who are determining their own gift plans?

Decide what is important to you and your family and develop a strategy to embody these values.

By contributing now, I can see my gifts being used in a meaningful way. Of course, they will be used meaningfully once I’m gone, but I can get personal satisfaction now from seeing my gifts in action,

A deferred gift can be an alternative to an outright gift. In addition to providing support to the institution, this type of gift can provide additional benefits to the donor. There are many deferred gift options. The first step is to review your current and future philanthropic goals, then discuss the various options with a trusted advisor. 

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