Along with overcoming numerous pandemic-related challenges, the Class of 2021 has distinguished itself by breaking Punahou’s record for the highest participation rate of Class-giving ever, with 273 members of the Class contributing. More than three-quarters of the Class made a gift or pledge to the ’21Together Financial Aid Fund, which supports the School’s financial aid.
Overall, the Class raised more than $3,800, but it was the fact that so many of last year’s graduating seniors chose to help that was remarkable. “As I watched you walk across that stage radiating joy after such a difficult year, I didn’t think I could possibly be more proud of you,” President Mike Latham ’86 told the Class, after learning about their record-breaking giving. “Punahou was built on a legacy of giving back, and I am so grateful that so many of you have committed to join this tradition of aloha.”
Student volunteers from the Class of 2021, led by Olivia Wedemeyer, spearheaded the ’21Together fundraising drive, which had been initiated by parents in the spring of 2019 in response to the rising need for financial aid during the pandemic. They believed that no Punahou experience should be cut short due to an external circumstance, and they succeeded in ensuring that the Class of 2021 lost no students due to financial impacts of COVID-19.
After graduating, Wedemeyer and other classmates worked in partnership with Punahou’s development team and the senior deans to turn the ’21Together Fund into an endowed fund that would benefit Punahou students in perpetuity. By asking the entire Class to commit to donating $5 annually for five years, all previous giving thresholds were shattered.
In recognition of her philanthropy efforts at Punahou, Wedemeyer, now a freshman at Yale University, has been chosen by the Hawaii Association of Fundraising Professionals to be honored on National Philanthropy Day with the award for 2021 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy.
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