As part of a milestone reunion gift, the Class of 1960 is helping Carleton students help the world
Gwen Mullen ’60 likes to joke that Project 60 came about because she’s a packrat.
“I was rummaging through my basement file cabinet,” she says, “and I found an article I’d saved since 1994, about Ralph Nader calling on his Princeton classmates to find a way to give back to the world.” Nader’s call led to the creation of Princeton’s Project 55, which funds fellowships for students to work with nonprofit organizations. “That was the spark for Project 60,” says Mullen.
She joined forces with like-minded classmates at their 45th reunion in 2005, but the fledgling steering committee soon realized that identifying internships—or even creating new ones—was not enough. Many nonprofit internships are unpaid, and a significant number of Carleton students rely on summer earnings to help pay for their education.
“All Carleton students should have an equal opportunity to reach their potential,” Mullen says. “They shouldn’t have to forgo an internship because they can’t afford to give up paid work for a summer.”
To help level the playing field, the Class of 1960 made internship funding a priority for their 50th-reunion gift in 2010. Propelled by a tremendous participation rate of 72 percent, they celebrated their milestone reunion with a $23.2 million gift, then the second highest in Carleton history. Part of the cash portion of the gift—$75,144—went to fund Project 60 internships.
Today, Project 60 funds two to three internships per summer out of its capital. Ultimately the class hopes that Project 60 will become an endowed fund, supporting annual intership opportunities in perpetuity and creating a legacy of public service by Carleton Students.
“This isn’t just about giving students an ‘experience’ for one summer,” Mullen says. “It’s transformational. It enlarges their world and their understanding of life, no matter what they go on to do after Carleton.”
Project 60 students intern at a variety of nonprofits, including:
- Face to Face, a Minnesota nonprofit serving the needs of homeless and underserved youth ages 11 to 23. Their programs support more than 3,400 homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth each year
- Delancey Street Foundation, a residential self-help organization in five locations throughout the United States, where former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless, and others who have hit bottom can live, work, earn a GED, and receive vocational training
- Denver Kids, which supports at-risk K–12 students in Denver Public Schools to successfully complete high school and pursue postsecondary education
- Davis Phinney Foundation, dedicated to improving the lives of people living with Parkinson’s disease throughout the United States
Class of ’60 volunteers help cultivate these internship opportunities and review student applications each year.