Meeting Our Match

In the second annual 48 Hours for Scholars, former A Night for Scholars co-chairs once again inspire others to give.

It’s a given that past co-chairs of A Night for Scholars (ANFS) know how to party—or at least, how to throw one. By bringing good friends together around a good cause like Fund-A-Scholar and adding some good food and music, they created events full of warmth, generosity, and laughter. 

Take away the food and music, and the ANFS co-chairs can still unite the Sidwell Friends community around an important cause: raising scholarship funds for tuition, co-curricular activities, and extracurricular activities for families in need. During the second annual 48 Hours for Scholars, a two-day event dedicated to the Fund-a-Scholar program, they did just that. Nineteen former ANFS co-chairs volunteered a challenge for the entire Sidwell Friends community: The co-chairs would match the first 150 donors who gave in support of student financial aid with over $45,000 of their own. 

Janie and David Song (P '21, '24, '26) hoped to motivate others to give through this challenge for the same reasons they once co-chaired A Night for Scholars. “David and I have always been committed to helping students develop their intellectual curiosity in a diverse and inclusive community like Sidwell Friends,” Janie said. “Scholarships only strengthen our community, giving our students a deeper understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the world while striving for academic success.”

Tracey Toscano (P ’03) did not hesitate to pledge a gift for this challenge and to join what seemed to her an innovative approach to fundraising during a pandemic. “Sidwell Friends offers many gifts, but one of my favorites is how they help students find and nurture the light that shines in each of them. It’s like the School flicks on a switch.” 

The ANFS co-chair challenge was one of many challenges volunteered and successfully met during 48 Hours for Scholars. Some, like the Parents of the Class of 2024 challenge, were based strictly on participation: the more, the merrier. Others, like the Class of 1986 challenge, encouraged generosity through dollar-for-dollar matches. 

And like last year’s inaugural 48 Hours for Scholars, the Sidwell Friends community easily exceeded the fundraising goal. While the volunteers and pledging donors hoped to raise $350,000 for student financial aid needs, the 507 parents, grandparents, students, alumni, parents of alumni, and current and former faculty and staff who made gifts collectively raised $410,941! 

The first 48 Hours for Scholars was born of necessity during the early days of pandemic; A Night for Scholars was already in motion and its volunteers were determined to fulfill their financial aid fundraising goals despite its COVID-related cancellation. In many ways, it was an experiment, one that unexpectedly illuminated a new fundraising model for Fund-a-Scholar. 

Ashley Doherty, assistant director of annual giving, explained why it made sense to turn 48 Hours for Scholars into a recurring event. First, it’s inclusive: “Anyone can participate, which means that community members who might not have attended A Night for Scholars--people who live far away, long-graduated alumni and their parents, current students--can make a contribution. And because there are matches based on participation, a donor can make a difference with gifts of any size.” 

It’s also volunteer-driven. In addition to those volunteering challenges, Doherty saw a 100% increase in community members who raised their hand to make phone calls, send emails, and text. Some of those volunteers did so just hours after the first 48 Hours for Scholars ended! Because they were so determined to create opportunities for students with financial need, the volunteers rallied and adapted when faced with challenges like technological glitches. 

Yet despite the streamlined approach, Doherty still misses the energy and face-to-face conviviality of A Night For Scholars. After all, both ANFS and 48 Hours for Scholars are about community members showing up for one another. “I can imagine that in the future, we may include an in-person kick off to 48 Hours for Scholars, something that allows us to gather and celebrate our inclusive community,” Doherty said. 

One thing is certain: however 48 Hours for Scholars evolves in the future, it will run on the dedication and generosity of volunteers. 

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