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The Power of the Endowment

A student is able to pursue an internship in the tech world, even though it means giving up a paid summer job. Another can attend the prom or take an SAT class without worrying about the expense. Still another can purchase a saxophone or violin so they can pursue their interest in music.

Many of these special Rivers experiences are made possible through gifts to the endowment. A robust endowment is a foundation on which to build the future, and that’s why it’s been one of the three pillars of the FutureMakers campaign. Growing the endowment for financial aid and student programs are top priorities and help to ensure that every member of our community can benefit fully from all that Rivers has to offer, whether by helping them purchase books or musical instruments or making it possible for them to participate in cultural or service learning trips. Donors have been so inspired by this call to action that more than $15 million in commitments have been made to the Rivers endowment since 2016.

Access to Science Internships

Two examples of how endowment funds can create and expand opportunities for students are the two funds recently established to support the school’s summer science internship program.

The program, which is more than 10 years old, provides students with an opportunity to do a summer internship in hospitals, doctor's offices, research labs, biotech companies, as well as robotics, computing, and other technology companies in the Boston area. The internships give students the chance to shadow science and technology professionals during their day-to-day work and to take on projects and challenges that the host institution might not otherwise be able to tackle without the help of the interns. Since its inception, the program has placed more than 90 students into internship positions.

This year a record-breaking 17 students were able to participate in the program, a number that grew over previous years thanks to the financial help provided by two endowment funds: the “Fund for Immersion and Inclusion in the Working World,” which was established by an anonymous donor in 2020, and “The Klett Internship Fund,” which was established by Mark Klett ’71 in 2021 in honor of his 50th Reunion.

A central goal of both funds is to increase access to the program by providing financial support for students from families with demonstrated financial need. The funds also provide resources to bring professionals and scholars to campus for the purpose of exposing students to real-world work experiences, case studies, and research initiatives.

Kim Fox, director of development at Rivers, said the anonymous donor of “The Fund for Immersion and Inclusion in the Working World” came forward to establish the fund after learning about the internship program. “They really wanted to focus on the inclusion piece and making it accessible to students from all socio-economic backgrounds—helping them cover various expenses such as the cost of transportation to an internship.”

Fox notes that the science internships sometimes help students decide what college major or career they want to pursue. “I remember one student, Nico Stuart ’21, who worked with software developer Jackpine Technologies for his internship. He loved the experience so much that he decided to major in that subject in college. And, in fact, he is now a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis where he is studying computer science. When I told the fund donor that story, he said, ‘That’s awesome—exactly what we want.’ ”

Upper School science teacher Michael Schlenker, who serves as coordinator of the internships, says that the opportunity for students to connect their classroom learning to the wider world is one of the many important outcomes of the program. “We talk about getting kids out into the world and bringing Rivers to the world. This, to me, is where it really happens,” he says.

Students who participate in the internships will do a presentation about their experience to the entire student body during a fall All-School meeting. They also write about their experiences in the school’s science internship blog. To read the blogs of this year’s interns, click here.

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