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Profiles in Giving


Growing up in Jamaica, Paula Nesbeth, N15, saw members of her family and her community struggle with obesity and hyper­tension. As a teenager, she realized that their diet was a pos­sible culprit.

She immigrated to the United States in 2007, when she was 16, and decided to pursue a career in food science and nutrition, with the goal of prevent­ing and treating nutrition-related health conditions. She earned a degree in biological chemistry from Grinnell College in Iowa, and then applied to the Friedman School’s biomedical and molecular nutrition program.

“I chose the Friedman School because it was strong on the science and also on the social context that influences people’s health,” she says. “Thankfully, the Friedman School also chose me.”

Without financial assistance, Nesbeth would not have been able to attend. But thanks to an innovative microphilanthropy fund-raising venture, she received financial aid that covers a third of her tuition.

The Friedman School microphilanthropy initiative, a two-month crowd-funding campaign last summer, raised more than $28,000 in gifts to pro­vide assistance to such students as Nesbeth who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented at the school. The initiative also attracted donations to other areas of need at the school, include ing financial aid for students in the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance pro­gram and Frances Stern Master of Science/Dietetic Internship program; resources for an internship at Tufts for undergraduates from Dillard University; and gifts to sup­port innovative doctoral student research at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts. In total, the crowd-funding raised $90,000 from 147 donors.

Angel Investors

Each microphilanthropy project had a champion, or angel investor, who con­tributed a lead gift and reached out to encourage others to give. James Rabb, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and member of the Friedman School’s Board of Advisors, was the champion for the fund that helped Nesbeth and donated a substantial lead gift.

A dedicated donor to the Friedman School, Rabb wanted to increase his giving and found the diversity project to be espe­cially meaningful. “I wanted to make sure that candidates with ability from any back­ground will not turn away from Tufts just because of the financial burden,” he says. “There is a world full of smart people with the capacity to greatly benefit humanity, many of whom cannot afford the necessary education. Our school thrives on its ability to attract the most gifted and committed students.”

Because of the initial success of the microphilanthropy initiative, the Friedman School plans to launch another microphilan­thropy campaign this winter. The program will continue to find ways to increase finan­cial aid and enhance the Friedman School student experience.