Tom and Sandy Sullivan have given $910,000 to Miami University for scholarships and an innovative urban education program – both of which target Cleveland students.
The couple provided $750,000 to endow the Thomas and Sandra Sullivan Cleveland Scholars program. They also gave a $160,000 gift that, coupled with a $140,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation, will establish the Cleveland Urban Cohort Program. It will place Miami students from Northeast Ohio in schools and community organizations on the city’s near West Side.
Tom Sullivan, who graduated from Miami in 1959, is former chair and CEO of RPM International, a specialty coating and sealant corporation. In 2002, as a gift honoring his retirement, the Sullivan Scholars Foundation was created. It provides scholarships to children to attend elementary, middle and high schools in Northeast Ohio.
The Cleveland Scholars program at Miami will be affiliated with the university’s Access Initiative, which provides free tuition to Ohio students whose families make less than $35,0000 a year. The Sullivans’ endowment will provide scholarships to those from the Cleveland area who want to attend Miami, with preference given to graduating Sullivan Scholars.
Part of the Cleveland Urban Cohort program will replicate Miami’s Urban Cohort program in Cincinnati’s Over-the Rhine neighborhood, said Tammy Schwartz, the director of that program.
Students interested in urban education apply for the Cincinnati program, which includes a semester living in a home that Miami leases in the area while they teach in an urban school, she said. The students also work with community organizations and have mentors.
Schwartz said the immersion helps the students, many who are white, middle-class females, realize the potential in urban areas and solidifies their commitment to urban schools. The program is in its second year. It had 19 students last year and 20 this year, she said.
The Cleveland program, which will include two Miami faculty members, will begin this fall. Schwartz said the West Side Ecumenical Ministry and the West Side Catholic Center have indicated a willingness to work with program, which is also seeking other West Side partners.
The grants from the Sullivans and the Cleveland Foundation will allow the university’s School of Education, Health and Society to develop a four-year pilot program.
In addition to student teachers, Cleveland’s program will also involve students and faculty from other departments including family studies, social work, educational leadership and health studies, Schwartz said. Faculty will work with community agencies on projects.