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The Late Bernie Axelrod Leaves Flagler Education Foundation $200,000 Endowment

| February 10, 2012

Bernie Axelrod in a family photo. (Denise Palumbo)

Bernard Axelrod never finished high school. But his favorite aunt—Faye Gelbard—was a teacher, and to his dying day (which happened to be last May 19) Bernie, as he preferred to be called, always had his heart set improving children’s education and giving them a strong start.

That’s the Bernie Axelrod who left the Flagler County Education Foundation a $200,000 endowment. It’s the first time in the foundation’s 21-year history that it will have an endowment. It’s also a seed for future similar gifts, which would help the endowment grow and add to its annual dividends. An endowment allows an organization to use the interest income it generates to fund various charities, without affecting the principal, making it a permanent source of revenue.

“To do charitable work it’s ideal to do an endowment to have steady, annual income,” Deborah Williams, the education foundation’s executive director, said. “That way you can sustain and plan and move your mission forward.”

The foundation first got word of the endowment last summer, soon after Axelrod—who had served on the education foundation in the 1990s—died. “We knew that it was coming but we didn’t want to announce anything publicly until we were sure that the estate was settled,” Bob Cuff, the education foundation’s president, said.

“Certainly it’s a very welcome donation. It’s an excellent way of providing funds to keep funding scholarships in the future,” Cuff said. The endowment will help fund one of the foundation’s three signature programs—its Take Stock in Children scholarship. Each scholarship has a value of $8,000. The foundation just nominated five students who’ll be receiving this year’s awards. (See below.)

The foundation, which has an annual budget of $239,000, also awards numerous teacher grants, and runs its Stuff Bus, a sort of free good-will shop on wheels for students facing hardships and their families.

Interest rates are very low these days, and endowments are not invested in risky ventures, so in its first year it may not yield more than $3,000 or so. But that will still be enough to complement other donors’ scholarships. With time, and if some of the endowment’s interest income is added to the principal, the total is expected to generate growing revenue.

Axelrod retired to Palm Coast sometime in 1989 or 1990, recalls his daughter, Denise Palumbo, who manages Travel Leaders in Palm Coast.

Axelrod grew up in New York City, where he became a union man in the city’s newspaper print shops for years before starting a travel agency. He got involved in the Kiwanis Club, became its president, and got involved in providing computers to public schools in Woodside, Queens. That was back in the early 1980s when the personal computer was still a luxury and technology in schools stopped at the overhead projector, or the class bell. “So he was a real pioneer in that,” Palumbo said. And always, he kept his aunt’s teaching as his inspiration. “He always admired that, because she was the only one who was really educated in the family.”

And that the reason he maintained his involvement in such things as the education foundation when he moved to Palm Coast.

This spring five Flagler County seniors will be awarded four-year college scholarships thanks to generous donors who make a financial investment in the Flagler County Education Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program. The Flagler County Education Foundation’s five Take Stock in Children scholarship winners and their mentors and sponsors this year are as follows:

Matanzas High School : Ashley Pelose, Mentor Ida Hallerbach, Sponsor Flagler County Association of Realtors.

Flagler Palm Coast High School students: Calixte LeBlanc-Ancion, Mentor Doug Mercer, Sponsor Flagler Woman’s Club.

Nicole Goldberg, Mentor Jean Hunter, Sponsor University Women of Flagler.

Nicole Petro, Mentor Margaret Kalush, Sponsor Eulalia Kalush.

Ramon Vega, Mentor Carmen Campanella, Sponsor Rotary of Flagler County.

Calixte LeBlanc-Ancion describes his Take Stock in Children experience saying, “Since my mother first told me about the scholarship when I was in middle school, I knew this was a unique, ‘special,’ opportunity for me. Knowing I had to maintain good grades, exhibit good behavior and remain crime and drug free made me less apt to give in to my emotions. Instead I remain focused on my scholarship. My mother has taught me that knowledge is something that cannot be taken away. My mentor Doug Mercer has new information for me each week that helps me get where I want to be step-by-step.”

Nicole Petro has been guided by her mentor Margaret Kalush since the 7th grade. Margaret’s mother Eulalia Kalush first learned about the Take Stock in Children program through her membership in Flagler Woman’s Club. Eulalia and Margaret made a promise to each other more than five years ago: Margaret would mentor a student from middle school through high school graduation and Eulalia would provide the money needed to purchase a Florida Pre-paid Scholarship through the foundation’s Take Stock in Children program. Eulalia died in 2008. This year at the foundation’s Senior Scholarship Night on May 2, 2012 Margaret will be there to present the the scholarship to Nicole in memory of her mother.

Each of the five graduating seniors has earned a GPA of 3.4 or higher. Calixte and Ashley are dual-enrolled at Daytona State College earning college credits while in high school. Nicole Goldberg plans to enter pre-law and Nicole Petro plans to join her brother at Florida State. Ramon is undecided as to where he will go to school, but with straight A’s, he has options.

This spring 11 Take Stock students will be selected from the 8th grade to join 37 students currently enrolled in the Take Stock In Children scholarship program.

For more information on how you can mentor or sponsor a student please contact Flagler County Education Foundation Executive Director Deborah Williams at 386/437-7526 ext 3125 or email

This year's Take Stock crop: From left, Matanzas High School's Ashley Pelose, Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Calixte LeBlanc-Ancion, Nicole Goldberg, Nicole Petro and Ramon Vega. Click on the image for larger view.

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3 Responses for “The Late Bernie Axelrod Leaves Flagler Education Foundation $200,000 Endowment”

  1. Tina Blume via Facebook says:


  2. tulip says:

    What a wonderful way to spend one’s money!!!!! Mr. Axelrod was a good man to do that and will make a positive difference in many student’s lives.

  3. jespo says:

    Heartwarming to see this man donate money to a worthy cause. Many young men and women will reap the benefits of his generosity and the societal responsibility he must have felt.

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