BEFORE COMING TO HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL, Bethany Kirkpatrick MPP 2023 taught English at a middle school in North Carolina. Wanting to learn more about how race, poverty, education, and health care affect the quality of public education and individual student outcomes, she set her sights on attending HKS.
“I have been teaching for the past few years—not a lucrative position—and I received a scholarship to cover all of my tuition,” she says of the financial aid she received from the School. “There’s no question that I would not be here without it.”
This support—and its effect on students like Kirkpatrick and the people she will go on to serve—is made possible by the alumni and friends who give generously to the HKS Fund. As the single most powerful tool for attracting superb students and empowering them to pursue careers in public service, financial aid offers opportunities that simply cannot be found elsewhere, including the chance to learn from pathbreaking faculty and connect with alumni and the greater Harvard community.
“The Kennedy School admits extraordinary students who have an intense passion to improve the lives of others through better governments, nonprofit organizations, and public-oriented aspects of for-profit businesses,” says Caitlin Santacroce, director of the HKS Fund. “But while we provide financial assistance to many emerging leaders each year, the need is greater than current resources can accommodate.”
Over the past decade, gifts from alumni and friends have allowed the School to invest significantly in financial aid—but even so, HKS can cover only one-third of the need. The School now aims to expand financial aid to reach many additional public leaders each year—leaders who show great promise but cannot afford to attend the School without a major expansion of financial aid. “We are helping a lot of students,” says Santacroce. “With additional support from alumni and friends, we can enable more students to enroll who could otherwise not afford to do so while giving more students the chance to enter public service without the burden of student loans.”
Increasing access to the School will generate positive impacts around the globe for generations to come. This is what motivates Greg Rosenbaum MPP/JD 1977 to invest in the education of these leaders. “When I think about how we’re going to solve the problems that the world has today and in the future, the place where these leaders are going to be minted is right here at HKS,” he says.
Rosenbaum is a member of the HKS Fund Executive Council and the School’s Littauer Society, which recognizes donors who make leadership-level gifts of $1,000 or more to the HKS Fund in a given year. Another group, the HKS Loyalty Society, highlights donors who give any amount in two or more consecutive years. Karly Zhunussova MPA/ID 2020, a native of Kazakhstan, joined the Loyalty Society because she wants to pay forward the support she received as an HKS student. “Financial aid is the only chance to continue education when you are a young professional from a developing country with limited or even nonexistent opportunities to get a student loan,” she says.
Naveed Ahmed MPA/ID 2024 hails from Pakistan, where he worked for the UN Development Programme in the country’s northernmost province, which borders Afghanistan. He focused on implementing policies to protect communities and build disaster resilience. “I saw a real disconnect between the higher-level policy and what’s being implemented on the ground,” he says. “That experience informed my decision on how I would like to be as a future policy formulator, on how I could craft better public policy.” Financial aid made it possible for him to come to HKS.
One hundred percent of gifts to the HKS Fund directly benefit students like Ahmed, paving the way for them to create positive change in their communities and the world. “Our supporters are united by their commitment to empowering the Kennedy School to help create better communities, better nations, and a better world,” says Dean Douglas Elmendorf. Through their philanthropy, HKS is able to educate people who will go on to improve the world through principled and effective public leadership.
Photograph by Kayana Szymczak