GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 5th Update for 2005-2006

Dear Pledge Organizers:


Help the Pledge Grow! Our Advisory Board has determined that to take the next step upward for the Pledge, we need a full-time paid coordinator. At present, we work as volunteers and can only put in limited hours. A full-time coordinator would make a huge difference in our efforts: increasing the number of schools involved, strengthening existing programs like yours, increasing pubic awareness of the Pledge, and strengthening resources for Pledge signers in the workforce. We are very excited about this!


We have a good shot for the immediate future at securing a full-time person through the Brethren Volunteer Service, a program that puts young folks in one-year placements with peace and justice organizations. For that to happen, we need to raise approximately $9,000 dollars (to cover housing, health insurance, and a small stipend)—a real bargain for what we will be getting. If each participating school donates $100, we can make this happen—but please chip in whatever you can. A contribution of $65 or more gets you a free copy of Melissa Everett's indispensable book, Making a Living While Making a Difference: The Expanded Guide to Creating Careers with a Conscience. Tax deductible checks should be made out to "Manchester College," noting it is for "GPA volunteer"—mail to Neil Wollman, MC Box 135, Manchester College, North Manchester, IN  46962.


Your Local Effort. You can also help us grow by taking Pledge brochures to conferences or, importantly, forwarding our introductory message (see below) to friends/colleagues at other schools: tell them there' is still time for a small effort even this year. Ask them to let us know if they are interested so that we can keep track.


This spring, expect to hear from Jake Reid or Anna Simmons from the national office, who are reaching out to Pledge organizers. They'll want to know what you have been doing and what support you could use, and they’ll try to motivate and inform you to take steps to better institutionalize the Pledge at your school. Even at some schools where we thought the project was firmly rooted, it was not carried on the subsequent year, so we are nudging schools to insure that it is (through a strong committee, usually based within an ongoing organization, with institutional support, and often with some ties to faculty or staff who are around more permanently).


Jake is designing a new form for your year-end annual reports that will go on the Pledge website. This will have several advantages, including making it easier for you to pass on your information and enabling us to run statistics on what is happening internationally with the project.


We realize folks are in far different places regarding level of participation. If you are not yet ready for a full-scale effort to sign up seniors, consider “tabling” for a day or two--signing up folks, handing out Pledge cards/ribbons/literature, and doing a little publicity ahead of time, if possible. It is a start on getting known on campus and will at least give this year’s senior class a chance to participate--and maybe you'll get a few volunteers for next year's effort . And let your college president or other administrators know, as a first step in their considering adopting the Pledge officially for the school.


Ribbons. The question that many folks ask us at this time of the year is how to get the green ribbons that students typically wear at graduation to mark the pledge (a few schools use alternative colors, for particular reasons). The cheapest way is to buy straight pins and a roll of ribbon at a fabric store–and start cutting! Otherwise, if you’re willing to pay about 10 cents each, you can have them pre-made and ready to wear (


Thanks, and good luck in your work this spring,




Neil Wollman

National Coordinator

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN  46962





Humboldt State University (California) initiated the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. It states, "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work." Students define for themselves what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible. Students at over a hundred colleges and universities have used the pledge at some level. The schools involved include small liberal arts colleges (Colgate and Macalester); large state universities (Oregon and Utah), and large private research universities (University of Pennsylvania and Duke). The Pledge is also now found at graduate and professional schools, high schools , and schools overseas (Taiwan and Australia).

Graduates who voluntarily signed the pledge have turned down jobs with which they did not feel morally comfortable and have worked to make changes once on the job. For example, they have promoted recycling at their organization, removed racist language from a training manual, worked for gender parity in high school athletics, and helped to convince an employer to refuse a chemical weapons-related contract.

Manchester College now coordinates the campaign effort, which has taken different forms at different institutions. At Manchester, it is a community-wide event involving students, faculty, and staff. Typically, over fifty percent of students sign and keep a wallet-size card stating the pledge, while students and supportive faculty wear green ribbons at commencement. (At a few schools, a different color ribbon is used.) The pledge is printed in the formal commencement program.

Depending upon the school, it might take several years to reach this level of institutionalization. If one can get a few groups/departments involved, and get some media attention on (and off) campus, it will get others interested and build for the future. The project has been covered in newspapers (e.g., USA Today, Washington Post, Associated Press, and Chronicle of Higher Education); magazines (e.g., Business Week), national radio networks (for instance, ABC); and local T.V. stations (like in Ft. Wayne, IN)

In a sense, the Pledge operates at three levels: students making choices about their employment; schools educating about values and citizenship rather than only knowledge and skills; and the workplace and society being concerned about more than just the bottom line. The impact is immense even if only a significant minority of the one million college graduates each year sign and live out the Pledge.