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Why I Say “Yes” to Radiance

Mark Ross, managing partner at PwC, shares his thoughts on Radiance.

Mark Ross, Managing Partner at PwC

A little over three years ago, I was asked by my firm to return to and lead our PwC practice in Cleveland. After almost 10 years away with stints in South Florida and Northern California, I was honored by the opportunity and jumped at the chance to return home. One of the tasks of the new managing role was to coordinate how we allocate our marketing dollars in the market, including philanthropic. While this seemed like a perk of the new job, I quickly realized I was in for a challenge. With so many worthy causes in Cleveland, it was hard to know how to choose.

One request that came across my desk was an opportunity to sponsor Cleveland State University’s annual Radiance event which helps raise money for student scholarships. At the time, we hadn’t had any recent recruiting activities at CSU and none of our partners were engaged on the board, so I made the decision to turn it down. That was before I knew of or met Tom Adler (Radiance co-founder). Upon my decline of the sponsorship, Tom immediately wrote back saying (and I paraphrase), “We should get lunch…We can talk about how important CSU is when we get together.”

We met for lunch and to my surprise, Tom brought Ron Berkman, president emeritus of CSU, with him. I was blown away by the passion and excitement these two men had for their school and I knew I had to give it a second look.

Radiance was established seven years ago and has raised almost $8 million to help keep upper-level students on track to graduation. The number of students who fall short of graduation by the smallest amounts because they don’t have a safety net is a shocking problem.

I felt honored to attend my first Radiance in May at CSU and ended up staying well after the event ended, using the opportunity to engage deeper with students, faculty and of course, Tom.

While I was a first-generation college student myself, I was fortunate that my parents were able to ensure I was positioned to go away to a four-year university and had the safety net necessary to succeed. What time has taught me is that others simply aren’t as fortunate. Thank you, Cleveland State, for all you are doing. Tom, I was wrong, and I look forward to your next call as I doubt I will be able to say “no” again.

Record $1.7-plus Million Raised for Scholarships

Radiance, CSU’s annual fundraising event to support student scholarships, raised a record $1.7-plus million in 2018, bringing its seven-year total to over $7.8 million to help students who are a few dollars short graduate on time. Read more >>

You Can Support Student Success by Supporting Radiance 2019

Next year’s event will be Wednesday, May 8, in CSU’s Student Center. The President’s Medal will be awarded to Barbara and Frank Sullivan and Jenniffer and Daryl Deckard. Through their philanthropy, both couples have been instrumental in CSU’s nationally recognized efforts to improve educational opportunity for foster youth.

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