Mercy receives $1.2 million gift for leadership institute

A big announcement was made Friday for Our Lady of Mercy. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A big announcement was made Friday for Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in Brighton.

Mercy will receive a $1.2 million dollar gift. The money will go toward a world-class leadership institute.

The goal of the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute is to create the next generation of diverse civic, business and community leaders. The institute will benefit all Mercy students, but specifically women of color.

The $1.2 million gift came from Cheryl and Paul Speranza. It is specifically named for Cheryl, a 1965 Mercy alumna, who died earlier this year from pancreatic cancer.

“Prior to my wife’s passing, she asked me to lead a holy, simple life, continue to help those in need, and make her proud," Paul said. “That’s what I’m trying to do through the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute.”

Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, spoke at the announcement, emphasizing the importance of diverse leadership in the next generations.

"These young ladies who come through, it won't just be about them," Dr. King said. "First of all, it's going to change the trajectory of their lineage. Many of them are going to be first to go to college. They're going to break cycles in their families, in their communities and then the work that they're going to do is going to impact thousands, perhaps millions of lives."

The institute gives students access to mentors, tutors and youth advocates. The inaugural program will kick off next fall.

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