Class of 1966 Internship Fund

July 29, 2016

Dear Friends,

It’s been almost two months since our reunion and the fond memories of our gathering are still top of mind.  For those of you who were not able to join us, we missed you! 

As you are all fully aware (maybe too aware!), we have worked hard to raise funds for the Class of 1966 Internship and Mentorship Fund, which will support the Science for Kids program for members of the Chester Children’s Chorus (CCC).   Our goal is an endowment of $125,000, which will pay the stipends of 20 Swarthmore students who work with the CCC’s middle school students when they attend their annual summer camp on the College campus.

Here’s the wonderful news: in June alone you contributed an additional $20,000, bringing our total cash contributions to more than $106,000.  Adding the amounts pledged by a number of you, we should achieve our goal soon.  This is terrific news for the CCC, Science for Kids, the College and our class.  Congratulations to all! 

Of course, given the vagaries of endowment returns and the ongoing needs of the Science for Kids program, additional contributions are more than welcome.  Many of the pledges represented a choice to promise in the 2016-17 year the same amount these classmates gave in 2015-16.  Some of you may have become aware of the latest such gift from Liz Probasco Kutchai’s recent post on the class website: "Friends, I have just sent a check off to the College, doubling my gift to the summer internship fund--our gift for our 50th reunion which fell short of its $125K goal. I am in awe of the good John Alston has done with the Chester Children's Choir, love the CD I got after their reunion concert, loved the video, and want to be a part of supporting Swarthmore students' involvement with mentoring these kids."

It would be great if other members of the class would follow this example or at least add something to what was already donated, to ensure we reach enough to set up the endowment by the end of 2016 so that the SFK program can rely on our support in the summer of 2017.  Please contact Caitlin Halloran Edwards at to make a pledge, or go directly to to contribute now.

SFK held a great science fair on campus on July 22nd.   John Wehmiller took some pictures, which you can view at: Isn’t it wonderful to see the engagement of the CCC students and the Swarthmore students?  You’ll be pleased to know that, in inviting everyone to attend the fair, the head of the biology department made special mention of our Class gift as a boost to the program’s continuing success.  The College is committed to continuing the SFK program while it seeks funds to replace the now-finished grant from the HHMI, which supported the entire program, including the student mentors, which is the part the Class of 1966 endowment will cover. 

Again, thank you for your generosity and commitment and we hope you are having a wonderful summer.     


Alex and Barbara


Science for Kids in action, Summer 2015
Karl Palmquist '17 (Bio major) talking to Chester Children's Chorus members DiKya Freeman and Imani Carter.


Ever since 1994, children who participate in the Chester Children's Chorus (, which performed at President Valerie Smith's Inauguration have been attending an annual summer camp on the Swarthmore campus, which includes music instruction, academics, dance and studio art. Beginning in 2005, as part of their camp experience, the 5th to 8th graders have also been offered hands-on science workshops designed to expose them to a variety of science topics.

The five-week Science for Kids program (SFK) takes place across three  department labs—chemistry, physics, and biology—and introduces the middle schoolers to topics such as robotics, cell biology and chromatography.   The workshops are run by six instructors, two faculty members and some 20 undergraduate students who together teach more than 50 chorus members.  The low student-to-teacher ratio is no coincidence.  While one goal of the program is to encourage a love of science, another is to foster mentor and role model relationships between the children and the College students and teachers.

A recent evaluation of SFK found that all of the participants learn and develop an interest in science.  These gains extend way beyond, “whoa, that’s cool.”  For example, the children’s ability to set up and interpret experiments measurably improved.  

The Swarthmore undergraduates who assist in SFK workshops are competitively selected each spring to be summer research assistants.  In addition to doing research with faculty, they have the option of working with the SFK program for about one hour per day.  The undergraduates who make this commitment receive honoraria of $250 each, which increases their summer earnings.  

The cost of the SFK program, including the cost of honoraria for undergraduate assistants, was initially funded by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and more recently by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).   The HHMI funding will expire in the fall of 2016, creating an opportunity for the Class of ’66 to endow a new fund, which we are calling the Class of ’66 Summer Internship Fund.

The goal is to raise an endowment of $125,000 to fund the honoraria for the Swarthmore students participating in SFK.  In the event that the SFK program is ever terminated, the funds will be used either to support student summer interns engaged in other educational programs offered by the College to Chester Children’s Chorus members or for student summer internships that support social justice programs in Delaware County. 

Carl Grossman, Associate Professor of Physics, who is one of the faculty members teaching SFK, comments:  “The SFK staff meet with the Swarthmore students multiple times, before, during, and after the program. We give them background information about the Chester Children's Chorus, Chester, and SFK, explain our motivation for working with these children, discuss their experiences teaching science, listen to their feedback on the lesson plans, and so on. The feedback I get from the college students is that this program satisfies an important, deeply felt need to do something to improve our world.”

“I think it is important for all institutions to have a positive interaction with their surrounding communities,” Grossman says, “especially for institutions of higher education, where we are training the next generation of scholars and professionals.”

The Class of ’66 hopes the Class of ’66 Summer Internship Fund will leave a lasting legacy – supporting Swarthmore students and nurturing a love of learning in children from Chester.  To make a gift go to


Gurrein Madan '17 (Neuroscience) speaking with DaJour Carter, Sean Tucker, Shamir Bryant and Breionna Dodson as part of Science for Kids on Swarthmore campus, Summer 2015.