Years after leaving the University of Pennsylvania, many alums fondly recall details of their first day on campus, the thrill of a basketball game in the Palestra, studying in Fisher Fine Arts Library.
The Penn experience has a profound effect on many of their lives, and, in following Penn tradition, many alums give back to the University through the Penn Fund.
The Penn Fund raises money that benefits students in many ways, says Colin Hennessy, Fund executive director, such as “the facilities they’re in, the students who are in class with them who are scholarship-aided. Their experience is made up, each and every one of them, in part because of philanthropy.”
The Penn Fund reaches out to alums to support the University, but giving back to Penn begins even before students graduate. For the senior class gift, class leaders reach out to their classmates through the group, Seniors for the Penn Fund.
“We would love to have seniors make a leadership level gift, which is $250, but many will choose to give a $5 gift, or they’ll give a gift of $20.13 to honor their class this year,” Hennessy says. “Participation is what matters most.”
“Giving back to Penn is not just about giving, it’s about uniting the class,” says College student Lakshmi Sivaguru one of the four co-chairs of Seniors for the Penn Fund.
The group holds fun events throughout the school year to raise money. At December’s Sansom Stroll happy hour, for example, seniors who donated at least $20.13 received a special “Seniors for the Penn Fund” green t-shirt, which they wore to receive discounts for drinks and food at Sansom Street restaurants.
And, last summer, some Seniors for the Penn Fund volunteers traveled to New York City to meet alums.
“We met some awesome alumni who’ve given back to Penn -- just listening to stories of the lives people who graduated 20, 30, 40 years ago, and they still feel that strong connection to Penn,“ Sivaguru says.
The student volunteers also reach out to their classmates to assist in contacting alums asking them to donate.
“We’re just teaching and showing people what Penn’s given them, that their time at Penn is going to impact them over their lifetimes, and that’s what made me want to get involved in it,” she says.
The Penn Fund helps provide many scholarships to students who might otherwise not been able to attend the University.
“I think that’s one thing that resonates with them. Those who don’t receive financial aid, have friends who do,” says Dennie Zastrow, assistant director for undergraduate participation.
The seniors aim to sign up 1,740 donors in honor of the year of Penn’s founding. The 2012 class was the first to hit that and exceed that number, with 1,757 donors.