Building for Belonging

147% of 200 Donor goal
This campaign ended on June 30, 2021, but you can still make a gift to Williams College by clicking here!
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An Anonymous DonorMaya Hislop matched $20

An Anonymous DonorA Generous Group of Alumni matched $245,000

Williams is a microcosm of our country and all of its complicated heterogeneity.  We are proud to be at the forefront of trying, experimenting, and evolving with our students, faculty, and staff as we consider how to fashion an equitable and inclusive environment for every person on campus.  We won’t always get it right, but we will never stop working at it.

As an exceptional educational institution, and Williams can and must do better to help every student at Williams thrive and find the spaces and communities on campus where they feel they belong. This work takes place across classes, via extra- and co-curricular activities, athletics, and within the residence halls, but it is rooted in the Davis Center.

With your support, we aim to raise awareness and dollars in support of the Davis Center's physical revitalization, along with the people and programs who build community among students, to ensure that Williams is the diverse, equitable, and inclusive college we aspire for it to be. 

We aim to earn the financial support of 200 alumni for this project before June 30th. Several alumni so deeply believe in the work of the Davis Center and in the importance of community building and belonging that they are offering matching funds to inspire others to join in supporting this work. More than $200,000 in matching funds are being offered thanks to the generosity of Peter '71 and Kathy Wege P'97 '90 GP'24, Lee Shackelford '80, David '81 P'23 and Amy Sorkin P'23, Richard Georgi '87 and Sanae Ishikawa, and Ken Alleyne '88. Additionally, if specific fundraising goals are met among young alumni, Williams has the opportunity to receive a $1M grant from the Schuler Education Foundation.

We aim to share and amplify the stories and lived experiences of students and alumni. Williams aims to be a place where all students feel they belong, but there is work to do before all students feel at home. That work should be informed by uplifting encounters and also ways individuals may have been let down by our community. We’re looking for stories of what it means to be a part of the Williams community—and most importantly, what we mean to each other. Share your story as part of the Bicentennial EPHS project.

DC Initiative
Williams College exists to take the shape of you

Grace Taylor Rae '13 Quote

"The liberal arts have been central to Williams College since its incorporation in 1793. Alumni support has been crucial since the founding of the Society of Alumni in 1821. But it was only recently through the work of the Davis Center that statements like Grace Taylor Rae's could be true, that a college like Williams would be willing to take the shape of its students, and working to hold each and every one in all their intersections.

Williams is still a work in progress—and with your help, we can get closer to being a place where every student feels and knows that they belong.

This is ongoing work, and there will always be more to do. We're so grateful to alumni like you who have made gifts to the college this year. This spring, we aim to raise awareness and dollars in support of the Davis Center's physical revitalization, along with the people and programs who build community among students, to ensure that Williams is the diverse, equitable, and inclusive college we aspire for it to be. 

We are so grateful to Grace Taylor Rae for sharing her story, and hope that you will find her words inspiring. Should you wish to share your own story, you may do so as part of the Every Person Has a Story (EPHS) project.

Thank you for being part of our alumni community, and for all you do for Williams.

Grace Taylor Rae's full note:
If I could give my first-year self some retrospective advice, I would encourage her to follow her joy. I would reassure her that Williams is a portal to her self-discovery, and she need not leverage her privilege in seeking belonging. Rather, know that Williams College exists to take the shape of you, to hold all of us in our intersections.
As an artist, writer and now (very) beginner homesteader with my husband in Vermont, I am returning iteratively into themes and depths of connection that first sparked my interest as an undergraduate English and philosophy student.

Especially through beginning to know myself in my faith, and in my experience as a Black Autistic abolitionist, I am living the nuances of liberal arts, immersing myself in liberatory loops of study and practice.
I am aware that my annual gift to Williams is not offsetting the cost of my tuition, books, room and board. My gift to Williams is a symbol in continuity: My Williams education is a foundation, made possible through financial aid, and I receive that gift in perpetuity. 

175 days ago by Kelan O'Brien
Mohammed Memfis '21 on the Davis Center

Mohammed wanted to share with you how central the Davis Center has been to his student experience. You make experiences like Mohammed's possible!

185 days ago by Kelan O'Brien
Now through June 30: Gifts of $20+ to be matched by $200

In celebration of the Bicentennial of the Society of Alumni, a group of alumni will contribute an additional $200 for any gift of $20 or more. All of these funds will be received through Building for Belonging, designated for Equity and Inclusion, and used in support of the Davis Center and community and inclusion programs across campus.

We're so grateful to Peter '71 and Kathy Wege P'97 '90 GP'24; Lee Shackelford '80; David '81 P'23 and Amy Sorkin P'23; Richard Georgi '87 and Sanae Ishikawa; and Ken Alleyne '88 for offering this pool of $245,000 in matching funds to inspire fellow alumni to contribute to this important effort.

207 days ago by Kelan O'Brien
Before Building for Belonging: Existing Programs for Equity and Inclusion

Williams is working to be a more welcoming and inclusive community—from before students matriculate to continued community building as alumni in the years after graduation. This work is ongoing, and it will never be complete. Building for Belonging signals a turning point for the college, such that the existing programs outlined below become prologue for the important evolutions to come. 

These existing programs are run by different departments on campus, and provide opportunities for connection and community building throughout each individual's relationship with Williams. Most are funded through the generosity of Alumni Fund donors like you, and Williams aims to grow many of these programs by 40% over the next three years: 

Windows on Williams (WOW) gives high-achieving high school seniors from the U.S. and Puerto Rico, who couldn’t otherwise afford to experience campus, the opportunity to visit Williams. WOW is a program of the Admission and Financial Aid offices.

Summer Science Program (SSP) is designed for incoming Williams students who are excited about STEM fields and who are from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences and/or first-generation college students. The program aims to increase confidence in quantitative skills and data analysis and scientific problem solving skills, as well as introduce participants to the fundamentals of college writing. Program faculty serve as first-year academic advisors and SSP participants benefit from workshops and programming throughout the year that support scholarly achievement, and facilitate mentorship with fellow students and faculty. The SSP also  provides ongoing academic and professional development opportunities throughout  a student’s Williams College career. SSP is a collaborative program across the sciences, currently featuring these faculty members.

Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program (SHSS) SHSS is a five-week intensive program for talented incoming first-year students with a passion for the humanities or social sciences who are from from groups historically underrepresented in the academy. SHSS combines classes taught by Williams professors with an introduction to the many resources available to Williams students. Throughout the program, students engage with faculty, academic staff, and peer advisors to introduce a wide array of intellectual, research, and writing opportunities. SHSS students are matched with program faculty for first-year academic advising, so there is ample time to discuss course selection and future academic opportunities. Learn more about SHSS from students who have gone through the program.

Root and other EphVentures Root is a first-year orientation program (or EphVenture) that focuses on identity, sustainability, and social justice, providing students with the skills they need to become change-agents on campus and beyond. Transitioning into a new environment—such as a college campus—can be anxiety inducing, but also exciting. By the end of the Root program, students will have created a community that challenges, supports, and encourages personal and intellectual growth. Root is a collaborative program of the Davis Center and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initaitives. Other EphVentures include WOOLF, Exploring the Arts, Leading Minds, TeamEph, and Where Am I?! All Ephventures leaders receive specific training in creating a cohesive and inclusive space for personal exploration as part of the first year orientation process.

Community Engagement Fellows and Workshops The Community Engagement Fellows (CEFs) are a Davis Center trained, peer-to-peer diversity education group. CEFs work closely with the DC staff and are part of the Davis Center’s effort to provide education for the campus on issues of identity, power, and privilege in order to build a more inclusive community. CEFs serve as peer mentors, and facilitate workshops for student groups across campus. Current workshops include Social Identity 101, Group Dynamics, Facilitating Challenging Discussions, Allyship, and Covid-19 Health Advocacy Training. CEFs also define and develop a capstone project in collaboration with DC staff. These projects address and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and/or in the broader community, and include a dimension that is shared with or engages the campus and/or broader community. Learn more about current CEFs.

MinCo: Minority Coalition MinCo is a coalition of registered student organizations that are designed by and for students of shared identities and backgrounds, especially those that are historically underrepresented and often marginalized. MinCo provides a more unified voice against prejudice and discrimination against minority students by serving as a mechanism for minority groups to come together in organizational, social, academic, and political spheres. MinCo facilitates cooperation and communication amongst its member organizations, the campus, and the Williamstown community and is an active voice in constructing a stronger community more aware of minority concerns. 

Curricular Offerings Williams offers classes and programs in Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Latina/o/x Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and is actively working to establish a program in Asian-American Studies. Courses are also offered related to Indigenous Studies, environmental justice, and other intersectional and interdisciplinary studies related to difference, power, and equity.

Allison Davis Research Fellowship (ADRF) and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) The ADRF and MMUF work to increase racial and socio-economic diversity in higher education by preparing students from underrepresented groups for academic careers. Both the MMUF and the ADRF fellowships provide opportunities for faculty-mentored research, preparation for graduate school, and individualized support from the Office of Special Academic Programs.

Internships and Career Exploration Opportunities The '68 Center for Career Exploration, the Office of Special Academic Programs, and the Davis Center offer tools and opportunities for students to explore their interests and discover different professional fields, as well as the funding to make such exploration equitable among a financially-diverse student body. 

The Career Access Fund provides financial support for expenses related to career preparation, internship and job interviews, and graduate study preparation. 

The Racial Justice Career Preparation Fund provides financial support for expenses related to racial justice projects or internships posted by alumni, professional development, interview attire, and other related racial justice expenses. 

The Williams Alumni Sponsored Internship Program enables students to perform a public service to these organizations and work on special projects with an opportunity to gain experience, explore career fields, develop skills, and build a network.

Racial Justice Summer Opportunity Grants provide a flexible opportunity for students to define how to advance racial justice initiatives.

Dively Summer Opportunity Grants provide students with an opportunity to engage with a broad range of issues related to gender, sexuality, and intersectionality. 

Public Humanities Fellows use the Williams College Archives and other sources to research, document and create exhibits related to Williams’ untold or less known historical legacy around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Alumni Relations Networks After graduating from Williams, all alumni automatically become part of the Society of Alumni, founded in 1821 with a constitution that affirms service to "the global community, through an expanding and diverse body." In keeping with that mission, over the last decades, Alumni Networks have been founded by alumni and supported by Alumni Relations with the particular intent of advocating for and representing emerging and under-represented populations within the Society. Current networks include: Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Alumni Network (BiGLATA)International EphsWilliams Asian and Asian-American Alumni Network (WAAAAN)Williams Black Alumni Network (WBAN)Williams Firsts Alumni Network (WFAN)Williams Latinx Alumni Network (WLAN)Women of Williams

234 days ago by Laura E Day

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