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Profiles in Giving

Good Sports

Will Freeman, A16, arrived in midtown Manhattan this past summer with the charge of developing a 10-week educational program for underserved youth. A newcomer to New York City himself, he crafted a series of thoughtful field trips that took as many as 30 children between 8 and 12 years old to a wide range of venues informed by weekly themes, such as the environment and the arts. Destinations included Union Square farmers’ market, the Brooklyn Grange (home of the world’s largest rooftop farm), and an exhibition of Maurice Sendak’s art at the DiMenna Children’s History Museum.

Freeman led the outings in his role as program coordinator for Summer in the City, a project of the Fiver Children’s Foundation, which has an ambitious agenda but a staff of only 10 people.

“I was given tremendous freedom and responsibility, and I really appreciated that,” he says. “I wanted to do real hands-on work, and because the Fiver Foundation is small, I had a chance to work closely with everyone. I could see what makes people feel so committed to Fiver.”

The Fiver Children’s Foundation pledges 10 years of free, comprehensive support and personalized guidance to children who are referred by partner organizations. Children enter the year-round program at age 8 and graduate at age 18. The foundation takes its name from the young, intuitive rabbit in Richard Adams’s novel Watership Down. It is Fiver who, convinced of dangers ahead, leads a small band of rabbits to search for a better future in a new home.

“Through my work with the youngest age group, I played a crucial role in bringing young children into the Fiver culture and preparing them for the years ahead at Fiver, which will certainly empower them,” says Freeman. “The 17- and 18-year-olds display a great degree of maturity and professionalism. Many are headed to college and clearly have the motivation to match their great ambitions.”

Freeman, who expects to double major in international relations and political science, says working with Fiver also helped him explore why he’s drawn to active citizenship.

“I’m motivated by a desire to learn and expand my perspectives, to build connections,” he says. “I love meeting and interacting with lots of different people. That’s something I’ve more clearly defined for myself, and it’s an important outcome that I will carry with me going forward. You have to have a sound understanding of why you’re doing the work in order to do it well.”

Funding Fivers

More than 60 students participated this summer in the 2013 Active Citizenship Summer (ACS) Fellowship Program at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service—a leap forward for the program.

The program recently expanded from Washington, D.C.; Somerville, Mass.; and select international placements to now include New York City and additional Massachusetts communities.

Thanks to a $1 million gift from the James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation, this year’s placements more than doubled in New York, jumping from 4 to 11, and placements in Massachusetts grew at a similar pace, from 7 to 17.

The fellowships come with stipends, which allow students who might otherwise need to take a paying summer job to instead devote their time to these life-changing opportunities. The program also connects students with alumni mentors in their host cities, and includes regular gatherings at which fellows reflect on their experiences and share what they’ve learned.

Nancy Wilson, dean ad interim of Tisch College, says the funding gives a welcome boost to a program that immerses students in addressing problems such as poverty, literacy, and child labor. “There is a tremendous demand from Tufts students to work closely with organizations tackling complex social issues,” she says. “They want to develop the skills to be part of the solution.”

Jamie Dimon, A78, chair, president, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, says he and his wife are pleased to support ACS Fellows. “We hope we can give more Tufts students the chance to become active and engaged citizens,” he says. “When you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life, there really is no substitute for hands-on experience.”

Everyone shares some responsibility, Dimon added. “For our part, business leaders, elected officials, and others need to focus on making sure young people have opportunities so they are ready to step up and help our country continue to lead in a complex global economy.”