One week. 1,550 gifts. $1 million—and still counting. That’s the remarkable story of the $1 Million for Mount Holyoke campaign. Alumnae from over 50 graduating classes, and MHC parents, friends, and current students—from 18 countries—came together to pay it forward. Each gift to The Mount Holyoke Fund, which ranged from $5 to $25,000, was matched during the June 9-13 campaign.
This $1 million investment will have an immediate impact on our students’ experience at the College, ensuring that Mount Holyoke can continue to connect them with award-winning teacher-scholars, opportunities to study and intern abroad, and the financial support to make it possible to attend MHC.
“Donors who make Mount Holyoke a priority are committed to making a better world; they are smart donors who want to see a return on their dollars. Through The Mount Holyoke Fund they invest in the future by supporting ideas and innovations, and a culture that encourages women to ask the big questions, and then supports them in finding the answers,” said Jill Stern ’84, director of The Mount Holyoke Fund.
The $1 Million for Mount Holyoke campaign was seeded by a $100,000 gift from Trustee Liz Cochrary Gross ’79. She was inspired by those who stepped up to invest in Mount Holyoke during the FebruMary Challenge, generating an 824% increase in giving from young alumnae and Frances Perkins alumnae.
Throughout the week, the campaign blog showcased how alumnae and students change the world. From the lacrosse team members cleaning up a mess left in an airport terminal—a good deed noticed by the CIO of a global insurance company—to an environmental studies class committed to tackling global issues right here on campus, the message was clear: Mount Holyoke women leave everything better than they found it.
Frances Perkins, the first woman to hold a cabinet post, served as secretary of labor for the 12 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. A champion of economic justice and security for all Americans, she profoundly influenced the political agenda of her day.
While attending Mount Holyoke College, Perkins visited local factories and took an interest in the problems of the working poor. In 1910, after earning a master’s from Columbia University, she became head of the National Consumers League. During her two-year tenure, she successfully lobbied the state legislature for a bill limiting the workweek to 54 hours for women and children.
In 1911, Perkins witnessed female factory workers jumping to their deaths in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She described it as “seared on my mind as well as my heart—a never-to-be-forgotten reminder of why I had to spend my life fighting conditions that could permit such a tragedy.”
Perkins subsequently worked for New York governors Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Roosevelt appointed her to the chief post in the state labor department, she helped put New York in the forefront of progressive reform. When Roosevelt became president and tapped her as labor secretary in 1933, she played a key role writing New Deal legislation, including minimum wage laws. Her most important contribution came as chairwoman of the President’s Committee on Economic Security. This role involved Perkins in all aspects of the reports and hearings that ultimately resulted in the Social Security Act of 1935.
Photo: Priyam Dhar
Vijaya Pastala ’89 (pictured, left) worked for global institutions including the World Bank and European Commission before starting Under the Mango Tree, a nonprofit that trains farmers and beekeepers in India. She has also helped 3000 people in six states to gain market access to their products.
Maimuna Ahmad’s ’09 post-MHC experience with Teach for America led her to found Teach for Bangladesh.
From the Dhaka Tribune:
“I grew up between Bangladesh and United States. As a child in Dhaka, I was very cognisant of the disparity between my own privileged education and opportunities compared to other children. When I was a senior at Mount Holyoke College I met a recruiter from Teach for America (TFA) who spoke to me about the same issue of educational disparity in the United States. TFA is an organisation that recruits top graduates and takes them to teach in low-income schools across the United States. After much soul-searching, I applied to and was accepted to TFA, becoming a secondary-school math teacher in Washington D.C. My experience in the classroom changed me profoundly. When I finished teaching, I returned to Bangladesh, and began the journey that led me to founding what is now Teach for Bangladesh.”
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