Impact Stories

Investing in the Future

Penn State campus

Impact Stories

Investing in the Future

Ken Kulju

A unique giving option allowed Ken Kulju to recognize the business education he received at Penn State.

Having spent his career working in investment banking with a number of Wall Street companies, Ken Kulju '80 Bus understands the power of a smart investment. So, when he heard that Penn State had established the Penn State Giving Fund, which enables alumni and friends to create donor-advised funds with the University, he recognized an investment opportunity.

"I actually worked with TIAA Charitable years ago," Ken says, referring to the investment firm that oversees the Penn State Giving Fund. "I know they have a reputation for excellent money management, and I am confident my gift will be managed responsibly."

Through the Penn State Giving Fund, Penn State supporters can create a personalized giving fund through which contributions can be made to the University and other charitable interests, while avoiding the cost and complexity of establishing a private foundation. Funds can be set up with a minimum of $5,000, and donors may qualify for a tax deduction in the year they make the gift.

In setting up his fund, Ken was also able to secure tax benefits by gifting appreciated securities. Typically, individuals must pay a tax on the profits they earn from the sale of appreciated securities. By donating those securities to Penn State instead, Ken avoided the tax burden and was able to make a larger gift to the University, one that might even grow over time as the funds mature.

But establishing the donor-advised fund was only the first piece of Ken's investment strategy. The real impact of his support—and the long-term benefits—are realized as his fund makes gifts to the Smeal College of Business Rogers Trading Room. True to Ken's own interests and professional background, the Rogers Trading Room replicates the trading experience and offers undergraduate students the opportunity to manage and invest real funds.

"I've supported the Rogers Trading Room since its establishment," Ken explains. "It's such a fantastic learning experience for students, helping them understand the demands of managing a real-world portfolio and make investment decisions. I know how valuable this will be as they enter the workforce."

Ken similarly credits Penn State for guiding his career. "I actually graduated with a degree in marketing," Ken says. "My classes gave me a unique appreciation for how markets operate, and I was able to carve out a really interesting niche in the finance industry. It was a great education."

Reminiscing about his own time at Smeal, and the ways in which the college has grown in the subsequent decades, Ken notes how proud he is of business education at Penn State.

"Smeal is consistently placing graduates into positions at top financial institutions," he says. "I'm seeing steady, continuous progress in how our degrees translate into exceptional jobs. It is so satisfying to me, as an alum and a supporter."

And it's this pride that motivates Ken to keep giving back to the University—not only to the Smeal College of Business, but also to the Arboretum, THON, athletics, and more.

"I like being a part of the Penn State family," Ken says. "The distinctive spirit around Penn State is so special, and I hope I'm helping to support that institutional legacy."

If you're interested in learning more about the Penn State Giving Fund and how this type of gift could benefit you and the University, please contact Michael J. Degenhart at or 888-800-9170 (toll free).

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Penn State University 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 Penn State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at c/o Office of Gift Planning, 212 The 103 Building, University Park, PA 16802, 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 Penn State 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 Penn State 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 Penn State 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 Penn State where you agree to make a gift to Penn State 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.

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