Westchester Children’s Association is suing the Lanza Family Foundation for $500,000 for allegedly reneging on a pledge.
The late philanthropist Patricia Lanza had proposed a $500,000 matching grant in 2013, according to the lawsuit filed in Westchester Supreme Court, and had challenged WCA to raise the same amount of money from new and existing donors in 2014. WCA says it satisfied all terms of the agreement.
Lanza died in 2014 as the fundraising campaign was underway. Months later, in recognition of her pledge, WCA honored her by presenting her family with a posthumous award for distinguished service.
But when WCA tried to collect the gift, the lawsuit says, it was told there would be no payment. “Knowing the sensitivity of the matter and acknowledging the high esteem in which Patricia Lanza was held in the philanthropic community,” the lawsuit says, “WCA made every effort to reach out to negotiate and resolve this matter.”
Mrs. Lanza’s son, Louis, who is now president of the foundation, said he could not respond to the allegation because he has not seen the lawsuit.
In a March 2017 email to Westchester Children’s Association Executive Director Cora Greenberg, he wrote, “We are no longer in the position of giving large single donations like my mother once did, based on our desire to continue the Lanza Family Foundation for generations to come.”
WCA was established in 1914. The mission of the White Plains organization, according to its most recent tax filing, is to “improve the lives of Westchester’s children by shaping policies and programs to meet their needs.”
The Lanza foundation was founded in the late 1990s by Patricia and Frank Lanza, who died in 2006. He was a top executive and co-founder of a defense contractor, L-3 Communications Holdings, based at the PKF O’Connor Davies accounting firm in Harrison.
The foundation has supported a variety of organizations around the world and had been focusing on Westchester issues. It’s support for the Westchester Children’s Association began in 2009 with a modest $5,000 donation, followed by $10,000 gifts from 2010 to 2013.
Patricia Lanza personally contributed $6.7 million to the foundation during the last three years of her tenure as president, according to IRS tax records. The foundation made 103 grants totaling $7.4 million from July 2011 to June 2014.
Her estate contributed more than $11 million to the foundation. During the past two and half years, the foundation has made 28 grants totaling $536,910, according to IRS records.