The Pearl Foundation

Enter The Site

The Pearl Foundation was deliberately closed January, 2021. Read below for its history and the reasons Janis Ian and Patricia Snyder chose to close it, after 22 years.

January, 2021

On September 15, 1998, my friend Michael Camp and I began the very first Internet auction. We hoped to raise $15,000 in scholarship funds to honor my mother, Pearl, who returned to school in her forties after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. You can read about that incredible event on my website (and the $65,000 we raised, even before online payments started – even before eBay!!)

A few months later, my wife and I decided to form The Pearl Foundation as a way to continue our commitment to continuing education. From that time forward, 100% of whatever money people spent on merchandise, whether on the road or through the website, has gone to the Foundation. Since 1999, I’ve performed countless “Living Room Concerts”, held website sales, offered everything from private phone calls and 500 word greeting cards to “Roadie-for-a-Day” and candid photos of our dogs in order to raise funds for these scholarships. We even had a “tip jar” at the merchandise table that raised close to $2,000 in nickels, dimes, and quarters every touring month!

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For 22 years, Pat and I have dealt with all of the regular order fulfillment, labelling, shipping, contracts, correspondence, missing orders, and any other problems. During most of that period we’ve also paid 100% of the website costs –creation, maintenance, webmasters, domain fees etc. We’ve covered the cost of merchandise manufacturing and storage, accounting and legal fees, insurance, specialized legal and financial advice, taxes returns, and any other costs. We’ve done it with our whole hearts, knowing that giving back is part of being a good citizen of the world.

A great deal of thanks goes to volunteers like Joan Maute (running the eBay store these past years, dealing with PayPal), Jeff Evans (album creations and distribution, from song selection and cover art to mastering), Tina Abato and Nancy Picconi (early fulfillment and storage, website building, on-tour sales), Judy Somers (correspondence), and Debra Hyslop (tour manager, who oversaw on-tour merchandise money and contributions collected, spending extra hours every night knowing it would benefit the Foundation). And of course, to the people who’ve so generously contributed their hard-earned dollars!!

Over the past 22 years, we’ve endowed more than $1,275,000.00 in scholarship funds, helped more than 150 students fulfill their life dreams. We’ve done all this without grants, hired staff, or advertising. It has been an amazing ride, but after all these successful years, it’s time for us to step down and close the doors.

The need for educational support is still huge; these past few years have been especially challenging as students and schools try to cope with universal changes in daily and academic life. We intend to honor our original commitment by continuing to contribute privately to these schools, and we encourage you to do the same.

Thank you,

Janis Ian & Patricia Snyder

Although the Foundation is closed, Janis continues her close ties with the various schools. In fact, she is currently in the process of donating her complete archives to Berea College! If you would like to support this endeavor, please visit the Berea College website for more information, and ways to give.

Berea College, Berea, Kentucky
Donate to the Pearl Foundation Scholarship
Contact with questions: and cc

Berea College
The University of Tennessee College of Law
Berea College

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." –Benjamin Franklin

Pearl Foundation scholarships specializing in returning students can be found at the institutions below:

Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina
Regular donations
Contact with questions:

Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont
Donate to the Pearl Foundation must be made by check, with a notation in the memo section designating it for the Pearl Fund.
Mail checks to: Development Office c/o Goddard College, 123 Pitkin Road, Plainfield, VT 05667.
Regular donations
How to apply for a Pearl Foundation Scholarship at Goddard College

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
* Originally privately endowed by Janis and Pat in Pat’s name, and specific to law degrees.
Regular donations

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