Founder’s Day has always been the one day each year when students from all three divisions of Sidwell Friends come together in community. Honoring the School’s founder, Thomas Sidwell, the day kicks off with Let Your Life Speak Morning: a forum for alumni returning to campus to talk about their career paths and to offer advice to students.
This year, more than 30 alumni speakers from across the country engaged with Middle and Upper School students, sharing how they have let their lives speak. Speakers included Asha-Kai Grant ’12, a producer at Saturday Night Live; actor Chris Stevens ’13, who is currently performing on Broadway in Leopoldstadt; Amanda Derryck Castel ’91, P ’21, ’24, a professor of epidemiology at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health; Benjamin Charo ’14, the program coordinator for the Coral Reef Alliance; and Hannah Bristol ’10, a senior advisor in the Office of Public Engagement at the White House, among many others. There was also a keynote speaker for the Middle School — Naabia Ofosu-Amaah ’03, the senior corporate engagement advisor on water and resilience at The Nature Conservancy.
With so many inspiring alumni on campus, it was the perfect opportunity to highlight Sidwell Friends’ commitment to making this education financially possible for more students—and to rally support. Thus was born Founder’s Day for Scholars—a day of giving that encourages the community to boost one of the most generous financial aid programs in the Washington D.C. area by building on the traditions of the day. As Upper School keynote speaker, founder and artistic director of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus Micah Hendler ’07, said, “It’s an easy case to make when such dynamic alumni are on campus to inspire the next generation.”
Marty Franks P ’03 says he first saw the power of the Sidwell Friends community to raise significant scholarship dollars for financial aid over thirty years ago when he was a guest at the School’s annual auction. “The means of raising financial aid has morphed over the years, but the underlying premise remains the same. Student body diversity makes Sidwell Friends an even better school.”
Sidwell Friends currently provides financial support for nearly 25 percent of its students, which is only possible through annual support from the School’s community. “There is so much more to be done,” says Franks. “With the sharp divisions in our society, promulgation of Quaker values is even more vital, and given the rapid growth of diverse populations in greater D.C., helping more students from all communities access a Sidwell Friends education has the potential to make a huge contribution in D.C., the nation, and the world.”
Formerly called 48 Hours for Scholars and, before that, A Night for Scholars, Founder’s Day for Scholars day of giving began with an initial fundraising challenge by several board members and continued to build momentum. In the end, it raised more than $697,000—nearly double its original goal. More than 400 donors—100 more than last year—contributed to this success.
“Attending Sidwell is a privilege, but not everyone can afford that privilege,” says Bruce Altevogt ’94, P ’28, ’30, who is both a donor and part of the Founder’s Day for Scholars Volunteer Leadership Committee. “If not for the generosity of countless families during my thirteen years at Sidwell I would not be where I am today. My brother too would not be in the position he is in. Financial aid is a lifeline to Sidwell for so many families.”
Altevogt also spoke to those gathered for Founder’s Day for Scholars. “It was not until I stood up and told my own financial aid story that I realized I never had an opportunity to thank the community who made my education possible. While the families were not the same, the opportunity to offer a word of thanks meant a lot to me. As a recipient of financial aid, I have always been so grateful to everyone in the Sidwell community who helped make my education possible. I have committed to providing that same opportunity to families today. I want to be sure we can open Sidwell's doors to as many as we can.”
Join our community of supporters and save the date for Founder’s Day for Scholars giving day and event on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. To learn more, contact Dana Saab, director of annual giving at firstname.lastname@example.org.