For Betsey and Vince Biondo, philanthropy is about service to others, public education, and building a legacy for good.
These two civic-minded world travelers have been married for 46 years, and when learning about their family and personal backgrounds, it’s no surprise they have a strong passion for giving back.
Last year, the couple setup scholarship funds to support immigrants or children of immigrants that want to graduate from San Diego State University (SDSU) and pursue a career in public service, or SDSU students that want to go into public education.
Betsey’s fund, the Marjorie Rose Warren Endowed Scholarship, is named after her mother who taught school for 35 years. Betsey, a graduate of SDSU, also taught school in San Diego for 27 years, and during that time served as School Board President for the Del Mar Union School District.
Vince, a retired lawyer and former graduate of SDSU, created the Antonio Biondo Endowed Scholarship in honor of his grandfather who emigrated from Sicily at age 14 to build a life in the United States.
To learn more about these two local leaders, I sat down with Betsey and Vince to find out what first sparked their philanthropic passions and why they believe scholarships are an important way to support the community.
Interview with Scholarship Donors Betsey and Vince Biondo
Danielle Valenciano: Why have you decided to give back to the community?
Vince: I have been very lucky. I never understood someone who claims to be a “self-made man”; they don’t appreciate the sheer lucky chance of being born in the U.S., free public education, and having other people, such as teachers and coaches, who helped make their success possible. That’s why I think it’s so important for us to give back to our community and help the less fortunate.
DV: Higher education is very important to you – can you explain why?
Vince: I worked while at SDSU and Stanford Law School, but I was also lucky enough to receive scholarship help from both Universities. Unfortunately, a declining belief in the value of and support for public education has caused a huge rise in the cost of attending SDSU. Education is the key to unlocking the “American Dream.” How could I not be inspired to do what we can to help young people achieve it?
DV: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Betsey: We spend a lot of time traveling to better understand what is actually happening in the world. We need to see new cultures and talk to the people, which is why we’ve been to over 100 countries and all seven continents.
We traveled to the North Pole in June because we wanted to see what global warming is doing to the planet. Watching polar bears aboard a Russian atomic icebreaker and hearing the crunch of their paws right next to the ship puts the issue into a unique perspective. Not only was it exciting joining people from all over the World in achieving a common goal, but it was eye-opening to experience the impacts of the issue first hand.
DV: What other community causes do you support?
Vince: In addition to our scholarship funds, we have established two donor-advised charitable funds, which support a variety of community needs. These funds aim to protect the environment, promote tolerance, encourage informed voters and honest elections, support public education, encourage progressives… and honor our immigrant heritage.
About Danielle Valenciano
As Director of Community Scholarships, Danielle and her team make higher education dreams a reality for hundreds of San Diego students each year. She serves donors who seek to support the educational aspirations of students and families who apply for scholarships each year. Danielle works closely with applicants to match their needs with funding opportunities, and taps the talents of the many volunteers who support the scholarship program.