On the sixth day of April, 174 years ago, John Insley Blair walked across Blairstown’s dusty Main Street toward the recently constructed Presbyterian church, pulled open the heavy front door and, seeing his partners, called the meeting to order. Joining him in the softly lit chapel were a half-dozen prominent citizens who had gathered to appoint a committee to oversee the erection of a new coeducational school. On that day, Mr. Blair graciously offered to donate land on a nearby knoll, located just south of the town burial grounds, as the site for the new school.
Mr. Blair’s gift marked, of course, the founding of Blair Academy and represented the first of many contributions that would enrich the lives of thousands of Blair students over the ensuing years. Today, the date that Mr. Blair made his first contribution–April 6–is celebrated by the School community as both Founders’ Day and Blair’s annual Day of Giving.
On April 6, Buccaneers from across the world came together to support the people and promise of Blair. In a record giving day yesterday, 732 generous donors contributed $330,817 to the School, giving to what they love most about Blair and investing in the areas about which they are most passionate–from arts and academics to high-impact scholarship and campus life.
At Blair, Day of Giving has become one of the School’s most important philanthropic traditions, a day when all members of the community come together to pay their own experience forward and give back. For the last seven years, the 24-hour fundraising drive supports the Blair Fund, which strengthens learning opportunities for today’s students by funding everything from extracurricular programs and service and leadership opportunities to scholarship aid.
Director of Advancement Cara Mohlmann P’18 ’21 explains that, every year, the tremendous show of support from students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends on April 6 plays a critical role in this philanthropic initiative. “The Blair Fund needs to raise more than $3 million annually to bridge the gap between tuition and the cost to attend Blair,” Ms. Mohlmann says. “So, any gift, no matter the size, enhances the community and allows us to continue the tradition of offering our students extraordinary curricular and co-curricular experiences.”
Associate Director of Annual Giving Anna Andrasek P’24 adds that, within the Blair Fund, “You have the ability to choose what you love most about Blair and to donate your gift to that cause.” This year, on April 6, Blair students joined donors from 37 states and 14 countries supporting the School with gifts and sharing what they love about Blair. Over the course of 37 years on the hilltop, veteran Blair English teacher Bob Brandwood has seen firsthand the difference that the Blair community's generosity, care and support can make. (Click “play” below to see him encourage students to share why they love Blair.)
“One of the things that makes Blair special is days like this,” says Assistant Director of Annual Giving Kristine Scialla P’20 ’22 ’25. “A group of community-minded citizens pulled together 174 years ago to make a difference in the lives of children, and Blair alumni, parents, students and friends are still doing that today. Thank you to all those who joined us for Day of Giving. Your gifts continue to transform the lives of students.”