A graph showing the uses of unrestricted giving at Harvard Kennedy School - Financial Aid: 70%, Curriculum Transformations: 17%, Student Activities: 10%, Field-based Learning: 3%The Power of Unrestricted Support

Harvard Kennedy School is where new ideas take shape and change the way we think about the world—and nothing does more to help HKS students realize their potential than unrestricted gifts. Your generosity equips students with resources to pursue ambitious goals, build strong connections, and gain the skills they need to become leaders in their local, state, national, and global communities.

Much of the Kennedy School’s income is restricted to specific areas, making unrestricted giving a very powerful source of funding for many students  who are experiencing financial need. If more supporters give, the School can bring its curriculum to more students and amplify our scholars’ and practitioners’ work to improve public policy and public leadership around the globe.

Alumni are forever grateful for the lifelong friendships and networks they made at HKS, and want to be part of a community that gives back to the next generation of leaders.

Unrestricted Gifts in Action:

Financial Aid 

As a child, Megan Russo MPP 2023 struggled with homelessness. When she graduates from HKS and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, she wants to use government to improve people’s lives. “I’m hoping to be a civil rights lawyer—and then one day down the line to be a key decision-maker in how laws and policies are created and changed, ideally at the federal level.” Generous donors to the HKS Fund made it possible for her to attend HKS. 


Students must practice their skills in real-world settings—and unrestricted gifts fuel these opportunities, especially for students who cannot afford to work without pay. They have interned at the Utah governor’s office to increase educator diversity, the office of a U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the World Food Programme to strengthen agriculture in the Sahel region in Africa.

Curriculum Enhancements

Because our world is constantly changing, we must continually adapt students’ education to ensure they are best prepared to have a positive impact around the globe. In recent years, for example, the School has hired additional faculty who focus on a myriad of topics, giving students the chance to expand their knowledge and learn from experts on pressing topics including economic insecurity, race and public policy. By convening the world's top specialists, HKS has built a unique learning hub that cannot be found elsewhere. Unrestricted gifts fuel these learning opportunities, creating an exceptional student experience.


The Big Picture: How Your Gift Fits

Over half of the School’s operating budget is derived from philanthropy—and most of those dollars are restricted to specific activities. Having the flexibility to respond to new challenges as they arise—challenges like a global health crisis—is crucial. That’s where your unrestricted gift comes in: to fill urgent needs and spur innovation by students and faculty.

Two side by graphs, one showing the sources of revenue and the other showing philanthropic revenue at Harvard Kennedy School