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SBAN Strong

The Swarthmore Black Alumni Network (SBAN), in just five years, has grown from an idea into a community, reaching a significant milestone.

“We have raised over $100,000 for transformative summer internship experiences,” says SBAN Co-Chair Tracey Patillo ’90.

In 2016–17, SBAN partnered with the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility to create and support the Urban Inequality and Incarceration (UII) program, offering students social justice internships.

One of the first projects UII interns tackled is an extension of Professor Keith Reeves ’88’s academic work. Last summer, interns worked alongside attorneys assisting incarcerated individuals who as juveniles received mandatory sentences of life without parole. (The 2012 Supreme Court decision Miller v. Alabama declared those sentences unconstitutional.)

Future internships could focus on urban education or health care, but UII’s greatest impact, says SBAN Co-Chair Jaky Joseph ’06, is the opportunity it offers students.

“Organizations that study these issues and are willing to take on interns often can’t provide financial support,” says Joseph. “UII helps students who may be facing financial pressure accept an unpaid internship.”

Beyond fundraising, SBAN organizes events to bring black alumni and students together on campus and regionally. In addition to SBAN’s annual Garnet Weekend program in the fall, the network most recently hosted an outing to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see a special exhibit by artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby ’04.

“We want to keep the network strong and offer our alumni a variety of ways to engage,” says Patillo. “SBAN is open to anyone who identifies with and wants to join our community.”

“Our goal is to strengthen connections,” says Joseph. “We want to hear any ideas about how we can make SBAN more impactful and an even better Swarthmore resource.”