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The Andrew K. Dwyer Foundation

T

BY ROBERTA JENCKES

This story begins at Hotchkiss, but like so many,

develops strong roots in the world outside the School.

One of a family with many Hotchkiss members, Andrew made friendships extravagantly while he was at Hotchkiss – across all four classes and without regard to social strata. “Everybody just loved Andrew,” says Associate Head of School John C. Virden’64, who was his advisor. “He had a wonderful bonhomie, a great attitude about life, and a smile on his face about ninety-nine percent of the time.” When Andrew died in an automobile accident in January 2003, the sadness and sense of loss weighed heavily in many hearts. But Andrew’s family, including father Andy Dwyer ’66 and mother Cindy Dwyer, sisters Elly Rice ’97 and Nancy Eaves, found one way to make something valuable – Andrew’s spirit and vitality – into something lasting: The Andrew K. Dwyer Foundation. In February 2003, his family (Cindy, Andy, Elly, and Nancy) and friends – his cousin Chris Brooks ’01, Nate Thorne ’01, John Hyland ’01, and friend from childhood Jake Grand – collaborated to launch the foundation; its programs would support children in need. Today the foundation has about 2.5 million dollars in endowment and makes gifts totaling about $150,000 each year. Its major fundraiser takes place in the fall – “Doggday” is an annual golf outing, tennis tournament, and dinner with a live auction. (“Dogg” was Andrew’s nickname at Hotchkiss. Everyone knew Andrew as “Dogg.”) “My son Andrew was such a sweetheart, with a wonderful sense of humor,” says Cindy

Every piece of it, every action, every gift and call to service has a home in one person: Andrew K. Dwyer ’01.

McKenna ’03 run the committee, but all the members support the foundation. The committee members offer ideas for the foundation’s programs supporting education. “The trustees established guidelines for our programs. We had to choose something that we felt Andrew would approve of. And we all had to be a part of it. It was not going to be a gift we would give once. It was something we would continue to support. Trustees of the foundation are individually committed at each of these schools, providing their time and dedication in addition to the foundation’s support.”

PROVIDING SCHOLARSHIPS AND ANSWERING WISHES

ABOVE: Andrew K. Dwyer ’01, when he was at Hotchkiss

Dwyer, “just a kind, kind young man. He had tons of friends, many of them from Hotchkiss, who have become involved in the foundation. The kids have been just incredible and their families, too. Hotchkiss has not only given them a great education, but also it has opened up their hearts. “We set up the Andrew K. Dwyer Foundation Committee in 2004, because so many of Andrew’s friends wanted to support the foundation. Sam Jackson ’01 and Lisa

The foundation supports five independent schools: The Waterside School in Stamford, CT; the East Harlem School at Exodus House; the Bronx Preparatory Charter School; Harlem Academy; and Brooklyn Jesuit Prep. Each school serves low-income children and helps the students develop academic excellence, moral integrity, courtesy, and a commitment to their future and their community. In tribute to Andrew’s many interests, the foundation supports a variety of programs outside of education – a swimming program, soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams. Andrew loved golf and was an excellent golfer, so The First Tee was a perfect scholarship since it teaches golf to inner-city children and encourages education, voluntarism, and F a l l

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integrity; the foundation awards two Andrew K. Dwyer scholarships to a First Tee recipient each year. For The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatrics Spring Prom, the foundation helps with the party and provides tuxedos for the evening. “The foundation supports the Prom because Andrew loved to dress up for the Hotchkiss dances,” notes Cindy Dwyer. Also, the foundation donates to the Sloan Christmas Party and gives gifts, including Ipods one year, to the children. The foundation also provided a grant to help fund the Adolescent Depression Awareness program of Johns Hopkins University and has underwritten the cost of making an ill child’s wish come true through the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Hudson Valley. “We have a scholarship at the Calvin Hill Day Care Center in New Haven, where Andrew’s dear Yale friends, Nate Thorne ’01 and Tony Bellino, volunteered,” says Cindy. “This year we presented scholarships to two students whose parents are the children of police, fire department, and EMT workers in the area where we live. At the East Harlem School, where Chris Einhorn, Chris Brooks, and John Hyland – friends of Andrew’s from Hotchkiss – are involved, we have programs, including the very successful ones held at Hotchkiss with the varsity lacrosse boys’ and girls’ teams.”

John Hyland ’01: “Andrew was my best friend, but the incredible thing about Dogg is that there are probably a dozen people who would say the same thing. To this day, I continue to have many close friends whose sole connection that I share with them is that they were friends with Andrew from other places besides Hotchkiss. The success of our foundation is a huge testament to Andrew and all of the people that he touched during his lifetime. “My connection to the East Harlem School is really as a board member of the AKD Foundation. Dede Brooks, Chris’s mom and Andy’s sister, is the head of the Board at EHS and first introduced us to the school. EHS is a middle school for grades five through eight (the lacrosse players are in seventh and eighth), and many of the kids go on to boarding schools. “The lacrosse outreach program with EHS students last spring came about when Mr. Burchfield (Hotchkiss Instructor in English

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LEFT: Varsity Lacrosse Coach Chris Burchfield

their school and teach them a little about their sport really made the day a huge success.”

Varsity Lacrosse Coach Chris Burchfield:

and Varsity Lacrosse Coach Chris Burchfield) called me about a year or so ago and asked me how the Hotchkiss lacrosse team could be involved with our foundation. I told him about the newly formed EHS lacrosse program, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Andrew was a varsity lacrosse player at Hotchkiss as were most of our large group of friends, and many of us played in college. The sport and the team were a very important part of our Hotchkiss experience. For the EHS kids, the day at Hotchkiss was the first time many of them had been to a boarding school and seen lacrosse played at a high level. “The EHS players broke into groups for tours of the school by Hotchkiss lacrosse players. Pat Redd Johnson from the Admission Office then spoke to the students about the process of applying to a school like Hotchkiss, which was great because she is very familiar with EHS. The students then had lunch with the Hotchkiss players, watched the Bearcat victory over Northfield Mt. Hermon, and then participated in a clinic directed by the Hotchkiss players and coaches. Former Varsity Co-captain Lindsey McKenna ’10, former Varsity player Lisa McKenna ’03, Elly McKenna, and Varsity Girls Coach Anna Traggio organized a similar day for the EHS girls’ team to spend a day at Hotchkiss with the Bearcats’ girls’ team. Lisa and Lindsey are Andrew’s cousins, and Elly is his aunt. It was a special day for all. “I was very proud to be a Hotchkiss alumnus that day. ‘Burch’ did a great job organizing the day, and the enthusiasm and friendliness of the Hotchkiss players to show the EHS kids

“Andrew loved his athletic experiences as a Hotchkiss student. He was so fulfilled by the camaraderie, the opportunity to play for Hotchkiss, and when he wasn’t actually suiting up, he always supported others as a spirited fan. Involving the lacrosse team only seemed natural. It honors Andrew’s legacy. “The EHS boys were so gracious and so eager; theirs was an unbridled enthusiasm. Whatever we may have shared with them, they more than matched simply through their spirit. They gave us quite an emotional lift!”

John Hyland ’01: “I never thought I would be so involved in the nonprofit world at such a young age. My involvement in the foundation has made me a much more well-rounded person and has provided a great balance with my professional career. I have also learned how easy it is to make a difference very close to home. “I think our work with the foundation has introduced others to volunteer programs. For example, Chris Einhorn, a classmate and teammate at Hotchkiss who also helped organize the lacrosse day, serves on EHS’ Young Volunteers Committee and devotes more time directly to the school than I do. My wife, Emily Bohan Hyland (’02), volunteers as a tutor at EHS one afternoon a week. Another friend, Beth Schmidt (’02) did Teach for America in Los Angeles, and we helped her with the logistics of sending a few of her select students to participate in camps, internships, and other activities over one summer. These were all opportunities that they would not have been able to experience otherwise. Beth is now devoting herself full-time to starting a nonprofit organization with this very idea at wishbone.org.”

Beth Schmidt ’02 “I knew Andrew from my time spent at Hotchkiss. He was soulful, spirited, charismatic, and most genuinely interested in others. I feel as though the Andrew K. Dwyer Foundation rep-


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RIGHT: Seen on the day of the lacrosse outreach program with East Harlem School are: back row, fifth from the left, wearing a cap, John Hyland ’01 and next to him, on his left, Chris Einhorn ’01. BELOW RIGHT: In her former classroom in Watts, Los Angeles, Beth Schmidt ’02, fifth from the left, is shown with her students.

resents his memory well, as it really exemplifies what it means to be alive – to serve others with passion, to believe in a hope greater than ourselves, and to feel unified in a spirit of global citizenship. “I taught tenth-grade English at Locke High School in Watts from 2007 to 2009 through Teach for America. I was attempting to teach my students how to effectively navigate a research project during my first year of teaching. After my first ‘research project’ assignment, I think maybe six kids handed it in successfully. “Then, I thought about how I could create something that would be meaningful; so, I talked to Cindy Dwyer about my idea and assigned a research project for students to research an out-of-school program of interest within the greater Los Angeles region, collect data about the program, analyze what the benefits would be in participating, and pitch it to me in an essay. The winners would get to actually go do the program. Almost every single student handed in that paper. This made me realize that students are empowered to control their own destinies when given the opportunity to do so. Seven students were selected from the essay entries, and these students participated in programs such as the UCLA Stem Cell Science Program, the UCLA Mock Trial Institute, the USC Trojan Football Camp, the Redondo School of Music, the New York Film Academy, and the Hawthorne Drum and Bugle Corps. “All seven students who participated graduated high school; all seven went on to either a two-year or four-year college. Many of the donors who funded these programs still follow up about these students and ask how they can help. “Wishbone.org was born from my ‘test

model’ in Watts through the Dwyer Foundation. After I realized what a game changer the out-of-school program experience was for my ‘at-risk’ students, I decided that I had to broaden the outreach and bring this model to an online platform. “Wishbone.org strives to bring opportunity to ‘at-risk’ high school students through direct sponsorship of after school and summer programs via online donors. “My work through Teach for America has made me redefine my notion of community. We are all community. We must break down the barrier of tolerating ‘them’ because we are ‘us.’ It is all ‘us,’ and it is possible for every one of ‘us’ to have remarkable educational resources in this country.”

Andy Dwyer ’66 “What I find exceptional is the commitment of young people’s time and how they really have gotten invested in the foundation, whether as

board members or volunteers. One of the wonderful things about Hotchkiss is having the feeling that you were extraordinarily lucky to go there. And that is the ethos of this foundation. It is significantly weighted toward Hotchkiss kids, who give us ideas about what to do. And this creates a life of its own. Every year we give away more money and have more people giving us ideas about what to do. “When you’re involved in something at the start, you’re not sure whether you’re going to have great momentum. This has really taken root. If we take all the people who have participated in foundation activities, it’s well over a thousand. “There’s no question that the energy really starts with people’s affection for Andrew and his ideals. As an alumnus, I take great pride in how many Hotchkiss kids are right at the center of this – boys and girls who have made such a huge difference. It’s a great credit to the school.” F a l l

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AKDF in Hotckhiss Magazine  

Article, AKDF

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