Girard College’s 175th Anniversary
175 Years of Transforming Lives
From its first day through today, Girard College has provided the resources and opportunities needed for students to thrive and succeed in education and in life. By providing a safe, supportive environment in which students can try, fail, learn, and explore, Girard puts young people on a path to discovering their purpose.
Girard College opened its doors on January 1, 1848, to about 100 students, fulfilling the unprecedented philanthropic vision of Stephen Girard. Over 175 years, more than 22,000 students have been educated at the College, a legacy that grows with each graduating class.
This is an exciting year for our community, as we celebrate 175 years of tradition while reimagining what it means to transform lives through education in the 21st century. By developing resources, expanding partnerships, and making investments in our program and our people, Girard College is poised for growth and success in the coming year and beyond.
There will be plenty of opportunities for you to engage with our students, visit our campus, and be part of the celebration. Look for communications on the following events and more, as we move forward as a #CampusForTheCity and #OneGirard.
Anniversary Year Events
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Philadelphia Orchestra Concert
In collaboration with Global Citizen, Girard College is proud to serve as the signature site for the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. We are also honored to host The Philadelphia Orchestra in our beautiful Chapel for their annual MLK Tribute Concert. Open to the public; all are welcome.
A special day for Girard College alumni, friends, and neighbors to gather on campus and celebrate the vision and philanthropy of Stephen Girard.
"Be Holding" World Premiere
"Be Holding" is a multimedia staged poetry performance with live musical score by MacArthur Fellow Tyshawn Sorey based on the award-winning poem by Ross Gay.
Inspired by Philadelphia 76ers basketball legend "Dr. J" and his iconic baseline scoop in the 1980 NBA Finals, "Be Holding" meditates on America’s history of racial violence in search of Black joy, justice, and love.
Produced by Girard College, a tuition-free boarding school for underserved youth that was at the center of Philadelphia's civil rights movement, "Be Holding" opens the school's historic campus to the city and fosters conversation on social justice issues that continue to impact its majority Black population today.
Over two years, students collaborated with an acclaimed team of professional artists to develop this adaptation, including Gay, Sorey, director Brooke O'Harra, musical ensemble Yarn/Wire, and Poet Laureates Yolanda Wisher and David A. Gaines.
"Be Holding" has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and will have its world premiere on center court at the College’s famed Armory in May 2023.
Beyond the Wall 5K Race
The Girard College Beyond the Wall 5K is a fantastic opportunity to experience an iconic Philadelphia landmark while raising funds for student programming.
Supporting the students of Girard College means creating equity and opportunity for students who have been historically disenfranchised by systemic racism.
Sponsorship packages are now available, with event registration opening May 2023.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
175th Anniversary Gala
Celebrate Girard College's 175th Anniversary in style at the newly revitalized Founder's Hall!
Program Highlight: Black History Month Chapel
The Girard College community celebrates Black History Month with performances, speeches, and spoken word from students and guests.
Program Highlight: 4th Grade Celebrates Pi Day
4th Grade students at Girard College learn about the mathematical constant that is celebrated around the world on March 14.
From the Historical Collections
What did the campus look like in 1848? The daguerreotype above shows the College just six months after opening.
In 1848, the only permanent buildings on campus where those designed by architect Thomas U. Walter, including Founder’s Hall, which served as the original classroom, and the four dormitories flanking it (now called Mariner, Merchant, Allen, and Bordeaux Halls). You can also see the wall and gatehouses, which were part of the original construction.