Generational Philanthropy: Roberts Family Gift

The three children of Aileen and Brian Roberts spent a combined total of 39 years at Penn Charter, each beginning in kindergarten. (Their parents did a lot of driving!)

During their "lifer" tenures at Penn Charter, all three Roberts children were deeply involved in various aspects of the school. Amanda OPC ’12, when not on the squash court, was co-editor of the yearbook and Student Council clerk. Tucker OPC ’09, a regular in Joe Fitzmartin’s room, was a member of Penn Charter choral groups for seven years and also sang with "Fitz" in the Keystone State Boychoir for eight years. After playing alongside them as sixth graders on the high school team, Sarah OPC ’06 co-captained the squash team her senior year with her two best friends, and PC girls squash won the Inter-Ac for the first time. All three Roberts OPCs are still in touch with their friends from Penn Charter. Tucker roomed almost exclusively with PC friends at Penn, and Amanda and Sarah have both been bridesmaids in weddings for their PC classmates.

Commencement 2009: At Tucker's graduation, he and Dr. Ford are flanked by (L to R): Brian and Aileen Roberts, grandparents Ralph and Suzanne Roberts, Amanda OPC '12 and Sarah OPC '06.

When they reflect on their PC experience, Sarah, Tucker and Amanda recognize that throughout their Middle and Upper School experiences Head of School Darryl J. Ford was a guiding influence.

Sarah recalls Ford’s eloquent and commanding voice often setting the tone during Meeting for Worship. And she also can attest that Kamal Marell OPC ’06 does a flawless impersonation of Dr. Ford!

Amanda, the youngest, recalls, “I feel lucky I first knew Dr. Ford when he was a part of the Middle School.” Ford was director of the Middle School for 10 years before being named head of school in 2007. “I was a fairly awkward middle schooler,” she joked, “so when I moved into Upper School he really was a familiar face to see and say hi to in the halls.”

Aileen Roberts served on Overseers, Penn Charter’s governing board, and was a member of the committee that selected Ford as head of school. “Darryl has led the Middle School and ultimately the entire school successfully for years with a real purpose and vision,” she said. “I can still remember him saying, at the time of his interview, that his ‘life’s dream was to be head of a Quaker school.’ Our family is truly grateful for sharing his Quaker values with the Penn Charter community, and we would like more young families to experience all the opportunity that comes from this wonderful institution.”

Supporting Philadelphia, Honoring Ford

Sarah Roberts Hall said that “a family gift to financial aid at Penn Charter was an easy decision for us because my brother and sister and I all experienced Penn Charter in such a positive way as three very different people. Among the three of us, we spent 39 years at Penn Charter and are so appreciative for every day we were able to have there.” She stops to laugh: “I say that now, but there were difficult days — like 11th grade.”

As a family, the Robertses have made a significant gift to the How Far? capital campaign. In support of educational opportunity and diversity at Penn Charter, the Roberts gift is designated for financial aid. And in recognition of Ford, a portion of the Roberts family gift will be used to create a specific endowed scholarship in honor of Head of School Darryl J. Ford. Income from that endowed scholarship fund alone will support need-based financial aid for multiple Penn Charter students. 

The Darryl J. Ford Head of School Scholarship Fund

Established by the Roberts family — Brian, Aileen, Sarah OPC ’06, Tucker OPC ’09 and Amanda OPC ’12 — to honor Darryl Ford’s leadership and dedication to Penn Charter for more than 20 years, first as Director of Middle School and then Head of School. This fund will support financial aid for deserving students for whom a Penn Charter education would otherwise be financially unattainable. The gift celebrates Penn Charter’s longstanding commitment to educating students to live lives that make a difference and Darryl’s singular talents in enhancing opportunities over a score of years.

Tradition of Financial Aid

Financial aid at William Penn Charter School has its roots in the early writings of William Penn, a devout Quaker and enlightened thinker who believed that education should not be restricted to a wealthy few. Penn advocated for financial aid in the interest of fairness and because he believed that a society’s welfare and prosperity depended upon the education of its citizens. He called upon his closest friends to support educational opportunity for those who could not afford to pay. Penn Charter continues as a leader in need-based financial aid. The school allocated more than $11.6 million in financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, 39.4 percent of the student body receives financial aid in amounts that range from several hundred dollars to almost full tuition.