The Sam Swidey Finish Line Fund
Because of mounting loans and diminishing aid, students often find that they need additional financial support to get over the last hump standing between them and their degree. The Sam Swidey Finish Line Fund assists Alray Scholars who have shown themselves to be responsible students and committed mentees, but who need some extra financial help in their last year of college.
Across a pioneering four-decade career in public education, Sam Swidey specialized in being able to reach young people who had been written off by others. He did this as a classroom teacher, as founder of a Head-Start-type program called the “School for the Not Readies,” and as a school principal who played John Lennon’s “Imagine” on the PA system in between classes. For the final quarter-century of his career, he worked as a high school adjustment counselor, helping troubled students find their way, co-founding a gang prevention and intervention program, and working to heal fractured families.
Sam Swidey (R) and wife, Mary, and their son, Neil, join Boston Public School graduates Lamar Brathwaite and Jason White at the 2008 book launch party for The Assist, where the creation of the Alray Scholars Program was announced. Brathwaite and White were two of the students whose lives Neil chronicled in the book.
Sam was a huge supporter of the Alray Scholars Program, and when he passed away in May of 2014, it was heartbreaking not just to his large, close-knit family but to the entire Alray community. Knowing how invested he had been in the success of this nonprofit, many friends kindly made donations in Sam’s memory. Those gifts led to the creation of this special fund for Alray Scholars, which new donors are helping to expand.
“This program beautifully represents the values that guided Sam in his life’s work,” says Mary Swidey, his wife of nearly 51 years. “I know he’ll be looking down on the scholars with pride and affection.”
In addition to receiving the extra financial support they need to graduate and earn their degree, a select few of our scholars receive the additional distinction of being named a Sam Swidey Finish Line Fund Scholar. Announced each January during our Annual Alray Scholars Brunch, this award is reserved for those students who have been extraordinary members of the Alray family, both in overcoming especially high hurdles and in giving back to the Alray community.
Congratulations to these deserving recipients:
Your contribution helps promising students surmount their final college hurdle.