'19s for Financial Aid campaign aims for 45 percent participation

by Anne George | 6/8/19 2:00am

admission-financialaid-nainabhalla
by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth

Forty-eight percent of the admitted Class of 2023 will receive need-based scholarships from Dartmouth. Through the senior class gift, the Class of 2019 is attempting to support the Class of 2023. Seniors can choose to make a gift of any amount but are encouraged to donate $20.19 to honor their class. The senior class gift is an annual tradition of raising financial aid funds through the Dartmouth College Fund to support the incoming class at the College.

Dartmouth College Fund managing director Dana Metes said that alumni classes have generally encouraged participation by adding to the total donation amount if the graduating class meets certain donation goals. As part of its 50th reunion, the Class of 1969 will contribute an additional $500 donation for every 25 gifts from the Class of 2019, Metes said.

Last year, members of the Class of 2018 raised $14,606 before bonus alumni dollars and achieved 47 percent participation. As of June 3, the Class of 2019 has raised $9,315 before bonus alumni dollars and is at 33 percent participation, according to Metes.

“The power is in the class together,” Metes said. “Some people will be able to give more, and some people will be able to give less. What we are really trying to emphasize is that every gift counts. We at the Dartmouth College Fund raise two or three million dollars a year from gifts under $250.”

Metes said the Class of 2019 will also be participating in the Young Alumni Challenge, in which an anonymous alumni donor will create a $100,000 Class of 2019 Endowed Scholarship if the seniors reach 45 percent participation in the senior class gift. The Young Alumni Challenge is part of the College’s 250th Anniversary Call to Lead $3-billion capital campaign, some of which will go toward financial aid. 

Metes explained that the Young Alumni Challenge is open to the classes of 2000 through 2019, meaning that 20 separate endowments could be created. She said she recognizes that reaching the 45 percent participation goal can be difficult, but said she believes the Class of 2019 can accomplish it through its class gift.

“It is important to us that we are helping Dartmouth be the best that it can be by creating a mechanism that allows for the best students to attend,” Metes said. “That’s what makes us feel good.”

Both Abigail Buckley ’19 and Jack Smul ’19, two of this year’s co-chairs for the senior class gift, said they are still optimistic about achieving the 45 percent participation goal.

Buckley said she wanted to get involved because she received a scholarship from the Class of 2015 and believes that it is her turn to contribute to making educational opportunity accessible for future Dartmouth students. 

“Part of my financial aid package was from [the Class of 2015] senior class gift,” Buckley said. “My freshman year here, I had a brunch with some of those alumni who felt it was important to raise money their senior year to give back to freshmen who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attend, and it was a very meaningful experience.” 

She said that the Class of 2018 co-chairs re-branded their gift as “’18s for Financial Aid” to ensure students were aware that their donations were being used for financial aid. This year, the co-chairs have done the same with their “’19s for Financial Aid” campaign.

“We are doing the same thing this year to make sure students understand that this money isn’t going to be used to build a new bench, [plant] a tree on the Green, that they won’t see the products of,” Buckley said.

Smul said that at the beginning of this year, the Dartmouth College Fund hosted a kick-off event at Collis Common Ground to congratulate seniors and introduce them to the Dartmouth College Fund. The Dartmouth College Fund also honored Hal Ripley ’29 — who donated to the College for 83 consecutive years until his death in 2011 — by serving free birthday cake on Massachusetts Row and discussing the ’19s for Financial Aid campaign with attendees.

Additionally, to increase participation, the Class of 2019 co-chairs have also recruited about 30 volunteers to help with the outreach process and have hosted weekly raffles of free clothing and accessories — from Contigo water bottles to socks — for everyone who has made a donation.

Smul believes that many seniors will still donate before commencement once they are reminded.

“When we reached out to seniors earlier, they said they didn’t feel like they were leaving yet and that we should ask them at the end of the term,” Smul said. “I think the closer we get, the more willing people will be to support this.” 

Annie Ke ’19 said she thinks the senior class gift is a good way to ensure that future students can have the same opportunities that she had at Dartmouth. 

“Looking back at my time at Dartmouth, what I really cherished was the diversity,” Ke said. “One of the more invisible parts of that is socioeconomic diversity, and I think financial aid makes that happen. As a future alum, I can see myself giving toward [financial aid] and as a senior, this was my first step in doing that.”

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