Miscellaneous Charitable Reunion Stories

SCHS class of 1968 donates new seal

Shelbyville (Tennessee) Central High School’s Class of 1968 (http://www.shelbyvillecentral68.com) left a lasting impression at the school. They purchased a bronze seal memorial in memory of deceased classmates—a memorial wall with a picture of each of the 26 class members who had passed away.

Class members agreed to the challenging task of raising money to purchase the bronze seal. Within three months they had raised approximately $3,500 to purchase the seal.

At a memorial dedication, 26 candles—representing the classmates who had passed away—were lit by family and friends during the emotional ceremony as each name was called one by one.

From a story by Gary Johnson in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Foundation receives donation

The Mt. Vernon (Illinois) Township High School (MVTHS) Foundation received a $2000 donation boost toward a Shakespeare Lab renovation for the school library from the MVTHS class of 1958. The class issued a challenge to other classes to try to beat their donation.

The library is the hub of activity at the high school and needed updated physical space. This will enable whole classes to use the library and everyone could be on a computer at the same time.

From a story by Tessa Culli in the Mt. Vernon Register-News, Mt. Vernon, Illinois

Reunion classes give back

John Wallace wrote in the William and Mary News, Williamsburg, Virginia, that in addition to reconnecting with classmates, reunion classes pull together for another reason: making a difference for the College of William and Mary.

Reunion gifts provide expendable resources and everything from research opportunities to improvements to facilities to funds for study abroad.

The Class of 1983 exceeded its original Class Gift goal of $750,000 with $1.019 million raised toward unrestricted gifts and pledges. The committee identified fraternities, sororities, dorm mates and athletic teammates to rally behind the overall cause.

The Class of 1973 has exceeded its half-million goal, with $502,000 raised. The Class of 1988 topped its original goal of $488,000, closing in on half a million dollars. The Class of 1998 is currently at $140,000, which surpasses its goal of $125,000.

Success was credited to great committee members who worked hard, made a lot of calls and reached out.

Class starts aid fund

The Newington (Connecticut) High School Class of 1983 25th Class Reunion served not only as a celebration, but as the kick-off to charitable effort to help class members and their families.

The NHS Class of ’83 Charitable Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity established to provide financial support to alumni who are in need of help and support for any life situations or emergencies. All donations to the fund are 100 percent tax-deductible, and every dollar goes directly to support classmates in need.

Many classmates pitched in, a certified public accountant handled the IRS filings and an attorney formalized the organization. The fund will maintain an anonymous assessment of need to identify those who need help.

From the New Britain Herald, New Britain, Connecticut.

Classical High School’s Class of 1957 funds program to match teacher project requests with donors nationwide

Springfield, Massachusetts, Classical High School’s Class of 1957 celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gift to city schools that will keep on giving.

The idea evolved into donations that will benefit all Springfield schools through DonorsChoose.org, an online clearinghouse which matches teacher project requests with donors nationwide. The reunion committee established a presence on the site and raised $10,000, matched by a business client of one of the committee members.

Since the project’s startup, 31 projects have been funded and 23 new projects are listed on the website. Check out the website and find a project you would like to support.

From an article by George Graham in TheRepublican, Springfield, Massachusetts.

Princeton Class of ’55 wants graduates to change world

Charles W. Bray used to be the typical alumnus. Every decade or so, he would attend his class reunion and, he said, he “always gave to the alma mater, but never until it hurt.”

Then in the spring of 1989, Bray, Princeton Class of 1955, attended a prelude to his 35th reunion where a classmate told them that at their current age, 55, they could soon become a drain on society by retiring and receiving Social Security. He said alumni usually donate money for projects like a fountain in the quad, which holds little meaning. As a class, he concluded, they had to find a better way.

The class began a fellowship and summer internship program based in Princeton but operated outside campus authority. The Princeton Project 55 has placed more than 1,200 Princeton graduates into year-long fellowships at more than 300 nonprofit organizations. Mr. Bray is board president.

The classmate who provided the impetus was Ralph Nader, consumer activist and two-time presidential candidate. He thought that, with his class winding down their careers, getting to the end of mortgages and nearly four decades of contacts in their Rolodexes, they could take collective action. “Rather than working in a soup kitchen,” Mr. Nader said, “we wanted Princeton Project 55 students working toward eradicating hunger.”

The class helps Princeton students leave the confines of campus. Over three years, they used about $400,000 in class donations and grants to place students in fellowships and internships where they could work toward some form of systemic change.

There was fear that the effort would distract the class from supporting the university, but the Class of ’55’s donor participation to Princeton is 98.3 percent of the class, making it first among 1950s classes.

From a story by Marek Fuchs in the New York Times, New York, New York

Giving back

Bill Williams, a frequent contributor to this magazine and searcher extraordinaire for the Warren (OH) High School Class of 1948, regularly talks to school superintendents. He reminds superintendents that many high school class reunions try to give something back to the school; software, computers, projectors, scholarship money. “That seems reason enough for school administrators to encourage reunions,” suggests Williams.

Generous gift

Yale University celebrated the Class of ’54’s contribution of more than $110 million, the largest class gift in the university’s history. Yale manages its endowment well now, but 25 years ago its investment performance wasn’t good. In 1979, Richard Gilder and a group of his classmates attended their 25th reunion and proposed that they pool their donations. They’d entrust it to a professional money manager and turn over the principal and interest earned to Yale at their 50th reunion. After receiving nonprofit status, the 54/50 Fund was born. Forty class seeded it with $75,000 and 31 more put in about $300,000 at the 30th reunion.The fund grew by a 37 percent compound rate of return on the original investment.

One classmate’s contribution of $5,000 grew to $2,562,000, another put in $15,000 and was credited for a gift of $3,501,791.

Found in the New York Times, in a story by Stephanie Strom

Class act

Flushing High School in Flint, Michigan, Class of 1960 classmate Jim Payne vowed to fly his old classmates to Hawaii for their 45th reunion. Fifty-six of them, as well as 45 spouses, have signed up for a trip to Maui next spring. Attendees will pay their own hotel and other expenses.

“I’m not doing this for publicity. It just seemed like a good way to get everyone together.” said Payne, who met with the reunion committee.

Reunion organizers admit they were skeptical at first, they thought he was kidding. Despite some mystery about the benefactor, classmates said they see no reason to disbelieve the offer. One classmate said the important thing isn’t the trip, it’s the way this has gotten people back in touch with each other and talking again.
From a story on Mlive.com and the Flint Journal by Elizabeth Shaw