The History of Senior Challenge
Steve Kent '67, a member of the Alumni Council and a Class Fund Director, started the Senior Challenge in 1988 to introduce seniors to Grinnell's tradition of generous, annual alumni support. He initiated the challenge by donating $5 to the Pioneer Fund for every graduating senior who donated to the 1988 Senior Challenge. He gave an additional gift of $500 because the Class of 1988, with 54% participation, surpassed Kent's own Class of 1967 in percentage of participation.
The Senior Challenge was renamed the Stephen K. Kent '67 Memorial Senior Challenge after Kent's death in 1989.
Seniors participate in the Senior Challenge by making a gift to the Pioneer Fund. The Alumni Council continues to make a $5 challenge gift for every graduating senior donor once class participation exceeds 50% and $10 challenge gift per donor once class participation exceeds 70%.
When more than 70% of the seniors participate, the Alumni Council makes a capstone of $750 in honor of the senior class. In 1999, an additional incentive was added: if more than 90% of the seniors participate the Council makes an extraordinary gift of $1,500.
In 2006 the class of 1956 made their gifts in honor of the class of 2006 and started the Senior Opportunity Scholarship to alleviate need-based debt incurred by seniors. This connection stretches fifty years into the future with the graduating class charged with supporting their legacy class, fifty years their juniors just as they were sponsored by the class fifty years their seniors.