In his two years working at the Red and Black Society, Josh Atwood ’08 has spoken with hundreds of alumni, many of whom have interesting stories that they are eager to share.

“One of my most interesting calls was with a man who, after Wesleyan, went into Afghanistan where he was eventually held as a political prisoner and has since been released,” said Atwood, who is also a program manager at Red and Black.

Red and Black is a branch of the Wesleyan Fund, the University’s primary fundraising organization. Current students call alumni and ask for donations, bringing in thousands of dollars each year.

“The Red and Black Society is tremendously successful,” said Head Manager of Red and Black, Eric Winters ’08. “It is responsible for raising over $300,000, including gifts from alumni and parents alike.”

According to Winters, 53 percent of alumni made a donation to the University during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, and about 28 percent of those donations came from the work of the Red and Black Society. One of the most distinctive aspects of Red and Black is the extent to which student involvement is key to the program’s success.

“The students of Red and Black keep the program running to such a successful degree,” Winters said. “It is the best paying job on campus for the successful callers and a great way to become acquainted with the Wesleyan alumni and University Relations staff.”

Students who work as callers for Red and Black agree that it is an extremely beneficial program, both in terms of the money it raises and the experience it gives its many student employees.

“The program has been wonderful for me and for my experience at Wesleyan,” Atwood said. “It has been wonderful to connect both with my peers here at Wes with me now and with those who came before us.”
Sarah Bell ’09, who will also be a manager for Red and Black this year, emphasized how important the program is to the campus community.

“Fundraising is a crucial part of Wesleyan’s success and it’s an awesome feeling to give back to the school,” Bell said.

Students who work for the program agree that the experience of calling alumni can be challenging at times, but is more often enjoyable and entertaining.

“Every person who has worked for Red and Black has a bad story about getting hung up on or talking to someone mean, but everyone also has a story about making a great contact or just speaking to someone who was really grateful that you are doing the calling and that you are a current student who is involved,” said Meredith Lowe ’09, another Red and Black manager who has been involved since her freshman year.

According to Atwood, conversations with alumni can often be humorous, as well.

“An alumna told me that if I could convince her 3 year-old daughter to give me 10 dollars, then she would give to Wesleyan,” Atwood said. “Children are so much harder to convince, it turns out.”

Student employees are happy with both the money that the program raises as well as with the experience they receive while working as callers. The current program director of Red and Black, Zach Webster ’06, and the two directors who preceded him are all recent graduates who worked in Red and Black during their years at the University.

Red and Black has evolved tremendously over the past few decades, and Webster hopes it will continue along that path.

“We have aggressive goals this year for the program,” he said. “The Red and Black Society is starting to settle into a very organized and select group of students. We all look forward to possibly one of the best Red and Black seasons ever.”

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