By Eric Geller
An anonymous alumnus has pledged $10,000 to Kenyon’s newly formed Summer Internship Stipend Fund if 60 percent of seniors donate to the Kenyon Fund.
But so far, the Class of 2014 has a long way to go to reach that goal.
As of Tuesday afternoon, only 10 percent of seniors had donated, according to Leslie Martin ’14, a member of Alumni Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT), a group of approximately 16 seniors who help prepare their classmates for the transition from students to alumni.
“It is embarrassingly small,” Martin said.
If the senior class meets the donation threshold, the $10,000 gift will bolster the beginning of the internship program, run by the Career Development Office (CDO). The goal of the stipend is to enable students who otherwise would not be able to apply for unpaid internships to pursue those opportunities, said Kristin Meister ’00, the vice chair of the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee (KFEC), which represents alumni in overseeing the Kenyon Fund.
According to the CDO’s website, the stipend fund “will provide a small number of students with the necessary living expenses in the city and area they will be working. Prioritizing students with high financial need, this fund will cover food, lodging and transportation for students while on the internship.”
Martin said ALOT plans to host a party near the end of the year to encourage donations. The event’s location is yet to be determined, but it will feature live music and be similar in duration to last semester’s Senior Soirée, which was around two-and-a-half hours.
“What we’re going to do is have people check in when they arrive,” Martin said, “and give them a wristband or something, and then be like, ‘Well, excuse me, would you like to donate to the Kenyon Fund?’” Seniors will be able to donate in cash or using their K-Cards. There is also an option to donate by K-Card online now.
Meister said the internship stipend pilot program was “projected to assist 10 to 12 students,” but that “the challenge has the potential to support an additional four students” depending on the amount of senior donations.
Director of Annual Giving Shawn Dailey and Director of Class Giving Ryan Stewart ’08 first brought the idea of a donation challenge to members of ALOT, who expressed interest in the challenge. Then, Stewart, Dailey and their staff in the Office of Annual Giving sought out alumni to contribute a large gift that would encourage numerous smaller senior donations.
“The donors, the College and ALOT liked the combination of the long-term effects it would have on the students receiving the stipend and the overall positive effect it would have on the College’s annual fund participation,” Meister said. “Financially challenged students would no longer be forced to make a choice between working to pay immediate costs or taking unpaid internships in order to develop potential skills.”
Martin said the low percentage of seniors who had already donated surprised ALOT members at first, but also said the figure reflected the fact that “we haven’t really had any campaigns this semester to encourage people to donate.”
While Meister did not recall a challenge similar to this one in the recent history of the College, she called it “a very good way to motivate individuals to give” and said she was optimistic about the prospect of reaching the 60 percent threshold. Because the goal is “participation, not amount of money,” Martin said, “every dollar counts.”