fbpx Why the HKS Fund? | Harvard Kennedy School

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 this 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—especially during the pandemic, when many students are seeing increased 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.


Unrestricted Gifts in Action:

Financial Aid 

Rachel Rostad MPP 2021, who was adopted from Korea and grew up in central Minnesota, came to HKS to gain the skills she would need to continue her work in advancing migrant and refugee rights. She says that without financial aid, she wouldn’t have been able to attend Harvard Kennedy School. “I’ve been able to broaden my skillset, and I’m confident that I will be able to be a more effective advocate, activist, and changemaker because of this degree.”

Summer internships

Because of the pandemic, some external organizations revoked funding for student summer internships. Consequently, HKS received many more requests from students to support their field-based learning endeavors. Thanks in part to unrestricted donations, nearly 170 students received funding for their internships in 2020.

Virtual learning

With the rapid shift to online learning in early 2020, the School accelerated the transformation of its curriculum. Gifts to the HKS Fund helped make it possible for the School to hire learning designers and course assistants, as well as to adopt new educational technology. These changes are equipping the School to deliver lifechanging education to students during the pandemic and beyond. 


The Big Picture: How Your Gift Fits

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

A graph showing the sources of revenue and philanthropic revenue at Harvard Kennedy School