The Yale call to service
The national Jefferson Awards were designed as a “Nobel Prize for public service,” to shine a light on inspiring stories of Americans making a difference. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis cofounded the Jefferson Awards Foundation in 1972 with two Yale alumni: former Ohio Representative and Senator Robert Taft Jr. ’39 B.A. and Sam Beard ’61 B.A., who has founded and chaired public nonprofit initiatives with seven U.S. presidents, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. The Yale Jefferson Awards, launched in 2012, have the same mission: to cast a spotlight on members of the university community who embody Yale’s commitment to public service.
“We realized that at the institutional level, we needed an award that recognized sustained, impactful service,” says Stephen Blum ’74 B.A., senior director for strategic initiatives at the AYA.
Yale students and alumni are engaged with service almost as a matter of course, with activities ranging from volunteering in New Haven through Dwight Hall, to participating in worldwide actions during Yale Day of Service, to joining humanitarian efforts abroad, to founding their own nonprofits. In fact, on Nov. 2 and 3, just a few days before Yale honors the Jefferson Award recipients, the AYA’s Careers, Life, and Yale program will bring together more than 100 alumni and students for “Skills for Changemakers: Careers to Improve the World” (students and alumni can register to attend here).
“I think of service as being of a higher order than work,” says Crumlish. “What’s central to Yale identity is that you’re expected to use your enormous advantage to serve the greater good. When students choose Yale, they are choosing to be part of a tradition of something bigger.”
The Jefferson Award winners will be honored Nov. 9, during the Association of Yale Alumni Assembly and Alumni Fund Convocation. They will take part in a Fireside Chat on Nov. 9 at 3:30 p.m. in the Nick Chapel Theater at Trumbull College, 241 Elm St.. The chat is open to all students and alumni. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.