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Class of 1969 Special Projects Philanthropic Grants Report. The First Ten Years
An updated version of our special projects philanthropy below the fold.
For our 25th Reunion in 1994, our Class Gift was $100,000 to the College for a “Class of 1969 Study Room” in the new wing of Baker-Berry Library. Thereafter, we continued to send out our annual Class dues notices with a “kicker” line for contributions toward a future Class gift. Dues-paying classmates were generous, and over time our treasury grew to a healthy figure. As we passed through our 35th and 40th Reunions, we noted changes in the College’s view of Class gifts with “acceptable” choices presented to us from a prescribed list. This did not sit particularly well with us. Paul Tuhus met with Computer Science personnel to explore a network of interactive electronic campus map mini-kiosks to help guide new students and visitors to specific locations. This initiative bogged down – ever-changing technology, weather, and maintenance/repair issues - and faded away. We began showing a greater interest in current students and the uptick with community service and its enhanced impact on The Dartmouth Experience. Class meetings took on discussions of how we might connect better with such students via a new organization on campus called The Hill Winds Society, working under the aegis of Student Affairs, that involved students looking to connect to alumni. They brought us an ‘07 student who was undertaking a book on the History and Evolution of Dartmouth Traditions. The idea was that such a book could be given to every entering freshman class. An initial grant of $5000 to fund the room and board of this student after graduation was in tentative approval, contingent upon an acceptable prospectus and outline. Alas, after graduation the student-author lost his focus, so the project died prior to any disbursement of funds. Discussions next involved consideration of “mini-projects” that would benefit student organizations and their initiatives to do good things, rather than simply banking our growing surplus of funds. We were primed and ready in late 2009 to act with an “up to $10,000 annual award” and a committee comprising Mark Anderson, Peter Elias, and Dimitri Gerakaris to explore potential projects. In short order, fate brought us our first “mini-project” and a leader who could continue to explore and nominate subsequent awardees. From here Dimitri Gerakaris picks up the story.
Origin of Program and Objectives
I missed our 2009 class meeting because I was elsewhere on campus, captivated by Pratyaksh Srivastava ’12. He had concluded that one of the world’s greatest challenges is lack of safe drinking water, and so he helped form a Dartmouth student philanthropic organization to do something about it with small solar-powered water filtration units. The following day Mark Anderson was visiting my forge because he missed the class group visit. “Oh, by the way, he mentioned, “since you missed the meeting, we voted you the chair of a new committee to fund Dartmouth student philanthropic groups, up to $10k per year. Peter Elias and I are your committee.” As he drove down the hill, I muttered, “I already have our first recipient”.
It has been a joy locating worthy recipients the past ten years with so much breadth and depth to Dartmouth student philanthropy. The over-riding goal of our grant, as I see it, is to not only satisfy an immediate philanthropic need but to inculcate and reinforce in our students the joy and skills involved in philanthropy and to encourage them to make that an ongoing part of their lives as Dartmouth alumni. I am very happy to report the program is still going strong, and we have been most gratified to see the ongoing philanthropy by those who have become alumni.
Each year when announcing the award at Homecoming, we assemble not only the new recipients but the leaders of the previous grant to hear their report of what impact our grant has had. Some of them have even chosen to bring some of the people they have helped, and it has been most gratifying for our Classmates, as well as inspirational to the new recipients.
Here are brief summaries of our recipients and their programs plus some heartwarming images. Thanks to our ’69 Classmates for the wonderful support!
Dimitri Gerakaris ‘69
Class of 1969 Special Philanthropic Projects Chair (a.k.a. ’69 Class Blacksmith)
Thumbnail Histories of Class of ’69 Philanthropic Grants
2009-2010: Dartmouth For Clean Water (DCW) Initial grant of $9,000 with a follow-up of $1,900 in 2012 in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and cholera epidemic.
DCW was founded on 2009 by Pratyaksh “Prat” Srivastava ’12, who concluded one of the greatest challenges facing the world is lack of safe drinking water. He and other students formed a Dartmouth student philanthropic organization to do something about it with small solar-powered water filtration units made in Ohio to be sent to villages in Haiti outside the capital of Port Au Prince.
This was fortuitously awarded at Homecoming in 2009 and the order for the units placed before the monumental earthquake of January 12, 2010! The initial three water purification units arrived shortly after the quake and were placed under supervised use at the elementary schools in the villages of Thomazeau (450 students and their families), Jounau (300 families), and at Merceron (600 families) and were credited with saving thousands of lives during the ensuing cholera epidemic! Prat, incidentally, with a continuing interest in public health, went straight from Dartmouth to Harvard Medical School, where he was elected president of his class.
2010-2011: Project Right Choice (PRC) $10,000 grant
Founded by Craig Fitzgerald ’11 and Chris Jenny ’11, who both soon enlisted dozens of other Dartmouth students to raise funds for families to stay at Fisher House in Boston to be with their military sons and daughters who were rushed back from war zones to undergo serious surgeries. Craig, an Air Force Special Forces Pararescue veteran, who himself had extensive reconstructive surgery, realized the importance of family presence at such a time.
The students parlayed the ’69 funds to stage a fundraiser in Alumni Hall, the proceeds of which were used to stage an even larger fundraiser at the Copley Plaza in Boston. They eventually cleared over $100k for the Fisher House Foundation. It should be no surprise that Craig went straight from Dartmouth to Harvard Business School, and Chris picked up a phone and talked himself into a job with Tesla as a lead project engineer.
2011-2012: “Philanthropic All-American Rush” (PAAR) $2,500 grant
A student initiative called “Philanthropic All-American Rush” (PAAR) was formed by students headed by Matt Lu ’13 to raise funds through individual fundraisers at various fraternities and sororities on campus. With our seed money and their effort, PAAR raised nearly $19,000 in its campaign, which it divided between two local organizations: the Vermont Community Foundation for Hurricane Irene relief and WISE, a charity providing services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Founder and chief organizer Matt Lu ’13 responded, “I want to personally thank you for supporting PAAR. Your donation not only brings us closer to our goal but demonstrates to the younger participants precisely the spirit of philanthropy that we’re trying to engender at Dartmouth. This is going to be a fun ride for the rest of the term, and I’m excited that your class is officially a part of it!” Matt went straight from Dartmouth to the University of Chicago School of Law.
2012-2013: Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association (DUVA) $7,500 grant
This grant was to provide short term bridge loans to military veteran Dartmouth students whose government payments were late. For administrative reasons, the check was deferred until 2013.
2013-2014: Athletes United at Dartmouth (“Athletes United”) $5,000 grant
The grant to Athletes United allowed them to expand their work providing kids in the Upper Valley “the opportunity to participate in a free, organized sports program that allows them to interact with Dartmouth varsity athletes” in order to learn more about self- discipline and self-esteem.
2014-2015: WISE@Dartmouth $5,000 grant
The mission statement of WISE is to end gender-based violence through survivor-centered advocacy, prevention, education and mobilization. Our grant enabled WISE to expand the training of their advocates, spread awareness across campus, improve and maintain their 24/7 service. Unlike College employees, who are required to share all disclosures of sexual assault, sexual or gender-based harassment, dating or domestic violence, and stalking with the College Title IX Coordinator, WISE Advocates may not share information without expressed consent from the victim unless there is imminent danger to self or others. The victims are under those circumstances more likely to seek help.
2015-2016: Outdoor Leadership Experience (OLE) $5,000
A mentoring program for fifth- through 12th-graders from financially disadvantaged communities to foster independence, leadership, teamwork, communication and appreciation of nature through group-based outdoor activities such as canoeing, rock climbing and hiking. Participating students are generally from a lower socio-economic background.
2016-2017: Directing Through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring (DREAM) $10,000 grant
DREAM is a program that takes Upper Valley students from challenged circumstances to various cities around the country to broaden their horizons and aspirations while accompanied by Dartmouth student chaperones. As a result of our grant added to their existing funding, they were this particular year able to fly to the San Francisco area and expose the kids to a great variety of experiences from the Redwood forests, to museums and ethnic communities not found in the Upper Valley.
2017-2018: SIBS (Dartmouth version of Big Brothers and Big Sisters) $10,000 grant
SIBS is a one-on-one program pairing Dartmouth mentors with disadvantaged youth in the Upper Valley. Mentors and their “littles" spend 4 hours each week together, engaging in activities of their choice. The children explore their interests and gain exposure to a wider variety of experiences and outlooks, all within the no-pressure context of having a supportive Dartmouth mentor to look up to. Before the grant, SIBS had 17 mentors, who had to pay for all activities and transport out of pocket, and after the grant the program swelled to 65 active matches.
2018-2019: Dartmouth Ski Patrol (DSP) $10,000 grant
The Dartmouth Ski Patrol was formed more than 60 years ago by students at Dartmouth College who recognized the need for people trained in first aid to serve the growing number of participants in winter sports in the area of the College. The goals of the patrol are summarized as Safety, Rescue, and Education.
Most patrol members are undergraduate students and are unpaid volunteers. A number of area residents and alumni also volunteer.
All members currently pay for their own personal equipment, National Ski Patrol dues and some training costs. The patrollers are trained to assess an ill or injured person, to manage life-threatening conditions and to provide basic emergency care whether working in the outdoor environment or in the lodge.
During the ski season training takes place on a nearly continuous basis and several day-long special training events are held throughout the year.
Their extensive training ensures that Dartmouth patrollers are well prepared not only to serve the Dartmouth Skiway, but as they graduate and leave the area, they will be able to serve their community as a rescuer and leader, wherever they may be.