A Tradition of Giving
"I thought you were going to spend your later years working for world peace," Gerald "Jerry" W. Blakeley III, F04P, recently said to his father, who is in his 90s.
"Yes," his father responded. "That's why I'm supporting The Fletcher School."
Recalling the exchange, the son laughed and added, "I feel the same way."
Three generations of the Blakeley family have ties to Fletcher. The eldest, Gerald W. Blakeley Jr., serves on the school's board of advisors and made the family name famous on campus by donating funds in the 1980s for renovating the student residence now known as Blakeley Hall. His grandson, Kipper Blakeley, F04, graduated from the school and serves on its European Board of Advisors. And Jerry Blakeley, the man in the middle —he's the one behind the Blakeley Fellowships.
From 2008 through last year, the fellowships enabled students to take unpaid summer positions with nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations—such as the African Entrepreneur Collective, MercyCorps, and the microfinance group FINCA International—all around the globe. Blakeley funded about ten fellows per year, for a total of 101. "It gave the students an opportunity they wouldn't have had otherwise to go and make a difference," Blakeley said. "They were much more than interns. They would take on a management role, with actual responsibilities."
By gaining real-world field experience, rolling up their sleeves, and applying their Fletcher training, the students made an impact and expanded their career options, Blakeley said. After graduation, many were hired as staff members by the organizations where they had interned or by similar groups impressed with their know-how.
A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Blakeley founded Extech Instruments Corporation, a business with offices in the United States, the U.K., Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. His travels around the world fueled his interest in international development, and soon after he sold Extech in 2007, he set up the Blakeley Foundation to support programs for reducing poverty. He created the fellowship at Fletcher because he had heard great things about the school from his father and son, and he believed Fletcher graduates could fill a global need.
"The students I see at Fletcher are going to be leaders in the world," Blakeley said—and funding summer internships to give those future leaders a critical leg up was a source of great pride. "I hope others will carry it forward."
For more information about the Blakeley Fellowships, visit blakeleyfoundation.org/fellowship.