Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
With a goal of $4 million, the Parrish Challenge has exceeded its expectations and has reached a total of more than $4.5 million, and Swarthmore received an additional $1 million from the Kresge Foundation as a result. The Parrish Challenge was part of a $18.4 million plan to conduct many renovations not only in Parrish but to modify other buildings such as the Sproul Observatory. Funds will be used to create more administrative offices and also an alumni center in the Sproul Observatory. A small fraction of the funds received will be allotted to the future maintenance of Alice Paul and Parrish. On a larger scale, the Parrish Challenge is also a part of the “Meaning of Swarthmore” campaign, which ends in December of this year. So far at $208 million raised, the campaign is short $22 million of its goal of $230 million.
Much of the funds needed for the large renovation project were raised during the “Meaning of Swarthmore” campaign by ample alumni donations. Despite the large sum given by generous alumni, “by 2004, the College still needed $5 million to complete the comprehensive project,” adds Susan Clarey, the Parrish Coordinator for the Parrish Challenge. In December 2004, the College was given the opportunity to claim a $1 million grant from the Kresge Foundation. The Parrish Challenge was born, with a goal of $4 million to be attained in a year, ending on December 31, 2005. Swarthmore was granted an additional $1 million after reaching the $4 million goal.
In addition to raising the $4 million needed for renovations, “another important goal of the Challenge was to involve as many people as possible into our fundraising efforts,” adds Clarey. About 1600 people were involved in the Challenge. Alumni of the college were by far the largest source of gifts. Donating alumni hailed from all fifty states and around the world; “they ranged from the Class of 1928 to last year’s Class of 2005,” said Clarey about the donating alumni. Gifts to the college ranged from $1 to $500,000.
Regarding the viability of attaining the goal, Clarey claims “because Parrish is such an important touchstone for the College community, we were reasonably certain that there would be a strong outpouring of support. We felt that $4 million was realistic, though not necessarily easy to achieve.”