Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Story of Harvard Foundation

The Mission of the Harvard Foundation

In 1981, the president and deans of Harvard University established the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations with the mandate to “improve relations among racial and ethnic groups within the University and to enhance the quality of our common life.” In pursuit of this mission, the Foundation seeks to involve students of all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds in the ongoing programmatic enterprises of the College and University and to highlight the cultural contributions of all Harvard students. The Foundation sponsors annual programs and activities that are designed to promote diversity, inclusion and equity in the interest of interracial, intercultural and inter-religious understanding and harmony in the Harvard community. (HF Website)

The Harvard Foundation Today:

The Harvard Foundation is an office under the dean of Harvard College responsible for creating programming. Programming tends to fall into one of two categories— smaller discussion or presentation based events and flagship events. These smaller events are generally imagined and led by a small group of interns that identify some need in the community. Past events have included a panel discussion on the achievement gap, a discussion in the morality of corporations and diversity recruiting practices, and town-halls about diversity at Harvard.
The flagship events are annual events that usually require support from multiple (in some cases, all) interns and additional staff. Cultural Rhythms, a multicultural week of celebration that culminates in diverse performances on Sanders Stage, is one such example of a flagship event; notable artists such as Viola Davis and Shakira have been honored as the Artist of the Year at the Cultural Rhythms celebration. The other most notable flagship event is Humanitarian of the Year, which has seen such notable humanitarians as Malala Yousafzai, Ban Ki Moon, and, to much controversy, Aung San Suu Kyi.
In addition to hosting events, the Harvard Foundation convenes the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) monthly as a way of bringing together students of nearly every single diversity-related group on Harvard’s campus. This is an opportunity for students to share their thoughts on the racial climate of Harvard and make use of a direct pipeline to administrators, who are almost always in attendance to hear what students have to say.
Together, these moving parts encapsulate the essence of how the Harvard Foundation attempts to improve the quality of the common life.

How to Become Part of the Harvard Foundation

Every fall, the Harvard Foundation solicits applications for a new class of Harvard Foundation interns. Generally, there are four interns hired every year, totaling to sixteen interns in the Foundation at any given time. In addition to the interns, the Harvard Foundation is supported by two full time staff members, an administrative coordinator and a programming fellow, and a director (right now, an interim director). The application process consists of a written application and two rounds of interviews.

Harvard Foundation Recent History

On July 12, 2017 Doctor Allen S. Counter, founding director of the Harvard Foundation, neurophysiologist, educator, and ethnographer, passed away. He took with him an incredible amount of knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm; his passing was particularly shocking to those at the Harvard Foundation because he was the only person who had ever stood at the helm of the organization. Since Doctor Counter’s passing, the Foundation has been forced to reexamine its own work and its understanding of diversity; in the wake of his passing, the future of the organization is more unclear than it has ever been before.

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