Building a Life Around Generosity

As the youngest of five boys, Kevin Keefe (B.S., ’81) carried on the family tradition of attending Colorado State University. The experience changed his life in ways both subtle and profound.

Keefe became increasingly involved with the University after graduating from the College of Business. He made his first gift to the Alumni Association in 1984, soon after beginning his career in accounting. That gift started a trend that has continued for decades.Kevin Keefe with CAM.

This past October during Homecoming & Family Weekend, Keefe’s lifetime giving topped $100,000, an accomplishment he is very proud of. “It is a great milestone for me, but it also speaks to the great things being done at CSU. That’s why I have supported so many areas, I see such good things happening and want to help where I can.”

Keefe’s philanthropy is rooted not as much in private wealth as in the riches of the relationships he has cultivated with hundreds of people in the CSU community.

A Commitment to Others

Born in Cheyenne Wells, a small town in eastern Colorado, Keefe’s mother was a school teacher and his father was a medical doctor, who dedicated more than 50 years to providing health care to the people of Cheyenne County and the surrounding area. According to Keefe, his father never turned anyone over to collections and told his staff he didn’t want to know who owed him money – he just wanted to care for others. That kindhearted precedent, along with his commitment to building a new clinic and hospital, is why Keefe Memorial Hospital was named in his honor in 1993.

That’s a powerful example that made a lasting impression on Keefe. He feels fortunate that his parents paid for him to attend CSU, so after their passing, he established the Dr. Jerome and Ellen Keefe Memorial Scholarship with some inheritance he received. “The money wasn’t mine to begin with,” he said. The scholarship helps high school students from eastern Colorado and western Kansas attend CSU.

Kevin Keefe with Tia Nuanez, a student studying agricultural sciences, at a CSU Women's Basketball game celebrating the Fostering Success Program in February 2020.
Kevin Keefe with Tia Nuanez, a student studying fashion design and agricultural sciences, at a CSU Women’s Basketball game celebrating the Fostering Success Program in February 2020.

Since the early 1980s, Keefe has worked for accounting firms along the Front Range, a real estate developer in Denver, and a John Deere dealership in Fort Morgan. In 2012, he moved to Fort Collins where he owned a commercial laundry business, and in 2015, he gladly accepted a position with CSU’s Business and Financial Services.

Regardless of where he has worked and lived during the past 40 years, Keefe, a lifetime member of the Alumni Association, has volunteered in numerous capacities and given to dozens of programs and priorities. None, however, has touched his heart quite like the Fostering Success Program, which provides a support system for students who are orphans, unaccompanied minors, wards of the court, legally emancipated, have a legal guardian or receiving kinship care, or have experienced foster care or homelessness.

Keefe credits Brittany Habben, associate director of development with Enrollment, Academic, and Student Affairs, for connecting him with the program in 2017. “He just ran with it,” she said. “Every opportunity there is to engage with the students, to serve alongside them, or to bring new donors into the program, Kevin is that person. He organizes FSP groups to go to basketball games, and always joins other volunteers to put together care packages for the students several times each year. The students love him and the FSP staff appreciates everything he does.”

Taking Care of Family

Keefe is formally making Fostering Success students eligible to receive the scholarship he named for his parents. “My giving across campus, but especially to the Fostering Success Program, can be summed up by that old expression that ‘you get back more than you give,’” he said. “I have been told FSP is lucky to have me, but I really think I’m lucky to have them. Meeting those students and seeing the great things they are doing is simply amazing.” Shelby Smith, the student who received his parent’s scholarship this year, is in the Fostering Success program majoring in cellular and molecular neuroscience with a minor in Italian interdisciplinary studies. “Her accomplishments just blew me away,” he said.

Keefe is a rare breed having made hundreds of gifts (both small and large) over the past 40 years. Giving back is a lifestyle and he’s built a community – a family of friends – who share his love for the University and spirit of philanthropy.

“Anybody can say they’re family,” Keefe said. “But at CSU we truly live it out.”

To celebrate family and friends weekend on Saturday, Nov. 25, Keefe was joined by Sophie Poppenga, a Fostering Success student and mentor, and Melissa Henke, a coordinator with the Fostering Success Program, to ring the Old Main Bell at the Smith Alumni Center before CSU’s football game against New Mexico, which we won 17-0.

Learn more about the Fostering Success Program and make a gift.

*  *  *  *

When you join the Colorado State University Alumni Association, you become part of something bigger – a global community of green and gold that keeps alumni connected to the University and each other. Life member, Kevin Keefe, is making an impact on current students and future Rams through his volunteerism and donations; providing support for alumni programming, outreach, and nationwide engagement; and preserving time-honored traditions that bind us together as Rams. You can make a difference too, and gain access to benefits such as exclusive invites, bookstore savings, career services, and more.
Become a member today!