A Day to Support Jumbos, Equity, Athletics, and More
As co-director of Tufts Student Giving, Zachary Ferretti, A23, works to engage students with philanthropy. His message: Gifts of all sizes can support the Tufts experience—from academics and extracurriculars to athletics and financial aid.
It’s a message infused with his own sense of gratitude. He’s bridged his political science major with two minors—economics and urban studies—volunteered with the Leonard Carmichael Society and, as a Laidlaw Scholar, studied cancer-causing water contaminants in his native Long Island.
“My experience as a Laidlaw Scholar has been amazing,” said Ferretti. “I was able to research a topic that I cared deeply about while being mentored by an incredible Tufts professor and surrounded by like-minded and talented students.”
Now, spurred by thankfulness for the opportunities he’s found at Tufts, he’s looking forward to inspiring giving among his fellow students on #TuftsGivingTuesday, a global day of philanthropy coming up on November 30.
“It’s a reminder that we, as Tufts students, have the power to show up and the power to create a positive change in our community,” he said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for students to meaningfully reflect on their time at Tufts and learn how they can support their fellow Jumbos.”
Ferretti is among the thousands of faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are coming together on #TuftsGivingTuesday. Social media channels will be in full swing, charting, celebrating, and broadcasting progress to inspire giving around the globe. This year Tufts fans also can tune in for Facebook live updates at Tuesday@Tufts, streaming from 11 am to 1 pm EST.
Organizers, guided by the theme “Building a Brighter World” (a nod to the priorities and values of the current campaign, Brighter World), are aiming to build on—and exceed—last year’s giving: 8,500 gifts totaling more than $3.5 million.
Adding vital momentum to their optimism is the continued leadership of alumni, parents, and friends who offer more than 80 challenges. Challenges help inspire donors to participate and make a profound impact on top priorities. One seeks to raise $200,000 for undergraduate financial aid; another, to benefit the Unexpected Hardship Fund, will match gifts up to $10,000.
Mark Pollak, A75, A16P, A19P, and Janet Meyers, A16P, A19P, are offering a challenge to spur giving to the COVID-19 Response Fund; each gift will be matched up to $15,000.
“We know how important it is to support students as they navigate the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Pollak. “Our challenge gift as part of Tufts Giving Tuesday will hopefully motivate others to join us in giving to Tufts. Our collective support will make an incredible difference on campus.”
Another challenge will benefit the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion (DSDI). Securing 300 gifts to DSDI will unlock an additional $45,000 to support the university’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice efforts.
“To support this challenge is to work towards Tufts becoming an anti-racist institution,” said Ellise LaMotte, associate dean of student diversity, inclusion,nd success for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. “Giving Tuesday gifts will enable Tufts and the DSDI to continue moving in that direction through the creation of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice programming while supporting students, faculty, and staff.”
That funding is particularly important now, she said, as Tufts expands the diversity of its undergraduate population, integrates the Center for STEM Diversity into the DSDI, and creates an Indigenous People Center. “Our DSDI community will be larger than ever,” she said, “and funding will be an important ingredient in its success.”
Traditionally, one big driver of giving has been the athletics program, and it is expected to draw a strong showing once again.
“I am so gratified to see the Jumbo athletics community rally together with such passion, enthusiasm, and generosity to benefit our student-athletes each year,” said John Morris, director of athletics. “The incredible outpouring of support and the friendly competition it creates among our teams, coaches, alumni, and parents makes for a fun and energizing day. It is the best of Jumbos helping Jumbos and I am looking forward to seeing familiar names and many new ones charge onto the #TuftsGivingTuesday donor wall this year!”
As always, Giving Tuesday depends on alumni volunteers. Mary DeMello, D86, DG87, a long-time fundraising volunteer for the School of Dental Medicine, is among those who will be reaching out.
Having just returned home from a meeting of the American Dental Association, she was primed to talk about why giving her time and resources to Tufts matters to her. “I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a service-oriented group of professionals,” she said. “As dentists, we change people's lives for the better. Helping them understand that oral health is directly connected to overall health is a significant part of our role, but so too is being a confidante and mentor.”
“Tufts School of Dental Medicine allowed me to be a part of this association and for this I am grateful,” she said. “Giving Tuesday is a chance to pay this opportunity forward. I learned long ago that people want to know their charitable donations made a difference, and so I’ll be doing my part to let alumni know that each and every gift allows our dental school to continue to provide the best environment for our profession to grow.”
A similar dedication to the future of their profession prompted Hilary Wheeler, V98, and Martin Donohoe to lead the Cummings Community Wellness Challenge at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
The challenge will benefit the Cummings Support Center and its mission to support a “positive environment to nurture and sustain the overall well-being” of students.
“Sadly, veterinarians are among the highest risk for suicide as compared to the general population,” Wheeler said. “If we can provide more resources for veterinary students to not only support them during their years at Cummings, but also as they embark upon their career paths, perhaps we can create a brighter future for our profession as a whole. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to raise awareness and shed some light on what we can do as a community to support one another.”
The support she received as a veterinary student, she added, allowed her to succeed personally and professionally and deepened her own compassion for others. She credits her Tufts experience as one reason she volunteers at a Northern California nonprofit, The Street Dog Coalition, which provides free veterinary care to pets of people living with homelessness or near homelessness.
“This Giving Tuesday, I hope others will join me in donating to the Cummings Wellness Center or any other area of need at Tufts,” Wheeler said. “Giving back not only helps the organization you are supporting, but also reminds us to look beyond our own lives and recognize the importance of helping others. The smallest act of philanthropy can affect positive change in ourselves and in this world.”
And at the end of the day, those small acts of philanthropy send a powerful message of hope and encouragement, said Lamotte.
“Giving Tuesday is a way to demonstrate commitment to supporting students as they travel on their academic journey at Tufts,” she said. “When people rally together for Giving Tuesday, they show the Tufts community that they care and that they believe our students matter.”
Visit givingdays.tufts.edu to learn more and save the date for November 30.