Yale College’s Class of 1957 has a storied place in the university’s history. During their four years on campus they participated in the first-ever bladderball game, and numerous members of the class helped the Bulldog football squad in a stunning upset over the nationally ranked Army team in 1955. Since graduating, the Class of 1957 has provided tremendous support for Yale and the city of New Haven.
When members of the Class of 1957, their spouses, and widows gathered on campus in May to celebrate their landmark 65th reunion, they also reveled in the class’s fundraising achievements. By the close of the reunion cycle, the Class of 1957 had set a participation record for a 65th reunion with ninety-eight percent of the class having given over the previous five years. The class’s overall lifetime giving to Yale has now surpassed $100 million.
“Everyone pulled together,” says Reunion Gift Committee co-chair and class secretary Merrell Clark ’57, ’70 MAR. “Our history in giving is strong, in both the number of givers and the amount. Our 65th reunion was a great chance to make a big gift to Yale and inspire those who are coming to give, too.”
“The ninety-eight percent participation defies belief,” says Donald Roberts ’57, who also served as co-chair of the Reunion Gift Committee. “Our class spirits are high and we’re all happy to contribute, especially to the Music in Schools Initiative.”
“As a class, we wanted to give something special to both New Haven and Yale,” Roberts explains. “We came together at our fiftieth reunion and created the Music in Schools Initiative. This initiative is the legacy of our class, endowed by us to ensure its permanence.”
Established in 2007, the Music in Schools Initiative is a partnership between Yale School of Music and New Haven Public Schools, placing Yale students in New Haven public school classrooms to offer free music and voice lessons to children. The initiative convenes a symposium on music education in New Haven every two years. It also supports a faculty member at the School of Music who teaches a course focused on community engagement and social change. Members of the Class of 1957 have remained involved with the initiative and enjoy seeing its impact.
“It is a joy to know that our gifts have helped to create something as extraordinary as the Music in Schools Initiative,” Clark says. “At our reunion, it was a pleasure to come together and watch a presentation on how the program is doing. We are so happy to see it flourish. We’re proud of this program and the difference it makes in the lives of students at Yale and in New Haven.”