It is one year now since the launch of the Alberto Hurtado Endowment Fund. From a parochial perspective, none of the assembled group who had come to celebrate the success of our bursary programme: the Alberto Hurtado Programme (AHP), as well as the launch of the Fund itself could have envisaged what was about to unfold over the coming twelve months.
Thankfully those same twelve months have been kind to the Endowment Fund. Our initial capital was not committed to the market until the late Spring and the capital was committed in two tranches; this meant that the Fund avoided the significant downturn in European equity prices that took place through March and into April. The upshot is that the Fund has enjoyed a healthy positive return rather than a potential small decline. With some € 1.6m in near term pledges the assets in the Fund, under the management of Goldman Sachs, should soon be close on € 6.5m. While this is a welcome outturn, the fact remains that our goal is to accumulate assets of € 20m, in today’s money. The ultimate objective of the Fund is to be in a position to fully fund some forty bursary places each year, while maintaining its the real value. It is an ambitious goal; but it is one that will be aided by a five-year holiday, during which no income or gains will be taken from the fund, and from some existing legacies. So clearly the Clongowes Foundation has much work to do going forward.
It was a pleasure to read that the Irish Times (Monday 11th January 2021), had identified one of the bursary’s early graduates, Bidemi Afolabi (OC ’13), as one of their 50 people to watch in 2021. Bidemi, who is studying pharmacy in Trinity College, Dublin, along with his fellow pharmacy student, Lauren O’Reilly, formed the company ProMotion that offers bike owners and brands a platform to connect. ProMotion was the winner of Trinity College’s LaunchBox programme. Bidemi initially pursued a career as a professional soccer player in England but an injury led him to switch his focus back to academia. He is a recipient of TCD’s Laidlaw scholarship, which aims to help students to develop strong research and leadership skills.
Three recent graduates (OC ’20), are starting out on their second semester at Georgetown University. Events in Washington D.C., these past five months, have afforded the boys another dimension to their education. This wonderful life experience could not have taken place without the initiative of an OC and his wife, who set out to fund a scholarship for an AHP student. However, such was the calibre of the three candidates that applied for that scholarship, that Georgetown University offered a further two scholarships.
It is important to stress here that the AHP is not a scholarship programme; it is a bursary programme based on the boys’ needs and the circumstances of their families. Students are not selected on the basis of their academic, sporting or musical abilities. In any one year, the AHP aims to provide a Clongowes education to some forty students, whose family circumstances would historically have precluded them from attending the College.
Often people define their lives, or the lives of others, in terms of talent or ambition. However, for many, and I would include myself here, it is opportunity that has given the most definition to their lives. Without doubt the four OCs above have some mixture of talent and ambition but, in the fullness of time, it is hoped that opportunity will be shown to have played a role.
The refurbished infirmary was opened in time for the return of the students from their Hallowe’en holiday. The upgrade and renovation of a building that was purpose built as an infirmary in 1872 was a significant investment and the majority of its funding will have come from the Foundation. The infirmary has served the School well for the past near one hundred and fifty years and with the benefit of this investment it should continue to do so for many decades to come.
On behalf of Emma and I, we wish you a happy and healthy 2021 and we hope that you and your families are managing well through these difficult times.
Joe Rooney (OC ’79)
Chair of Fundraising