Founded by Kathy Fitzgerald and Brian Palmer in 1984, FUP was inspired by activism of the early 1980's when campus activists were grappling with the injustices of the apartheid system in South Africa and an economic recession which exacerbated issues of equity and access to opportunity. FUP was created to be a student-led program which could serve as a complement to the only existing pre-orientation program at the time, the First Year Outdoor Program.
In 1984, the first FUP was comprised of 8 first-years and 4 leaders, by 1997 FUP grew to 90 first-years and 30 leaders.Thirty-three years after its founding, FUP has grown in size to over 100 first-year students and 36 leaders.The service FUP provides has been extremely meaningful to both first-years, leaders, and community organizations. The growth of FUP has allowed the program to host a diverse student community and to serve a broader range of populations throughout Boston and Cambridge. The most important part of FUP is the sense of community which remains long after graduation.
Kathy Fitzgerald currently serves as in-house general counsel for a social service agency in New York City and Brian Palmer is a professor of anthropology in Sweden and has written a book in Swedish about 101 people who risked their lives for social justice 101 Historiska Hjältar.