Jeremy Hirst’s first philanthropic act at Simon’s Rock came before he graduated. He received a scholarship and instead of taking the financial award, Hirst gave it back, but retained the honor of having won the award. Ever since graduating with his BA, Hirst has been making a point to give back. This way of life was formalized after his father began the Mason Hirst Family Foundation, which was founded based on his family’s deep belief that it was their “duty to give back to the world everything we could, both through our personal labor and through philanthropy.”
In 2007, Hirst offered Bard College at Simon’s Rock a $25,000 grant through his family’s foundation. Its purpose: to help students that may have suffered from social injustice by virtue of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigration, disability, and/or economic status. This year, the Foundation made another $25,000 gift to endow the Mason Hirst Scholarship Fund, which will directly support students from financially and socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The scholarship will target and assist students from the foster care system, students coming from financially or socially disadvantaged backgrounds, or those who come from the poorest inner-city or rural communities,” Hirst explained. Both grants largely reflect the mission of the Foundation: to promote an environment where countries nurture communities, where communities nurture families, and where families nurture their members to become active participants in their country's future to promote a more just, healthy, and sustainable world.
“We hope the scholarship will help recipients to grow into active members of their home communities,” Hirst said. “Simon’s Rock is a natural campus from which to do this. For the right students, the College can provide access to a challenging academic and supportive social environment,” something he believes is most possible in small places like Simon’s Rock, which underscore the importance of relationships as well as academics. And he would know. Hirst has studied at Mills College, Bryn Mawr, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the University of California San Diego. Yet, this now practicing child psychiatrist is still impressed with the education he received at Simon’s Rock, crediting the faculty with not only making a space in the classroom for an academic challenge, but opening opportunities through good teaching to have students leave transformed. “This is the kind of experience we hope that the Mason Hirst Scholarship Fund will help students with financial hardship access.”
In addition to providing Simon’s Rock students with essential financial support through scholarships, the Mason Hirst Family Foundation directly supports organizations that they believe underscore their core values, which include a mix of homeless centers and educational organizations that, like Simon’s Rock, transform lives.