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OXFORD UNIVERSITY RECORD DONATION CUTS FEES FOR POOREST

Oxford University will use a record donation to abolish the tuition fee increase for its poorest students – keeping fees at £3,500 per year.

In a bid to remove financial barriers, eligible students will also receive funding for all their living costs. With matched funding, a £75m donation from Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman is set to rise to £300m. This is being claimed as the biggest such financial support package in European university history.

At the launch of the scholarships, Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Andrew Hamilton, spoke of the importance of “ensuring that all barriers – real or perceived – are removed from students’ choices”.

University self-supporting

Mr Moritz, chairman of the US-based venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, spoke of his own family’s debt to benefactors, when they had been refugees from Nazi Germany.

“I would not be here today were it not for the generosity of strangers,” said Mr Moritz.

From his business experience in the US, he said many of the great innovators were from “the most unlikely and impossible circumstances”. But their progress had been made possible by university scholarships- and he wanted to support such opportunities.

The financial package will be worth about £11,000 per student per year – and will be available for students from families with an income below £16,000 per year.

This will continue in perpetuity – using the investment income from the donation – in a way similar to the endowments that underpin the finances of major US universities. It also marks a UK university taking a greater step towards self-funding some students – and loosening its students’ reliance on the state-funded student finance system.

Under the scholarship scheme, students will only have to borrow the £3,500 per year, rather than the £9,000 which will be charged from this autumn.

Professor Hamilton spoke of his concern about the deterrent effect of the debts facing students, when fees are £9,000 per year. Charlotte Anderson, currently studying German at the university, said she was the first person in her family to go to university – and that debt had been a major cultural obstacle for her family.

“All they saw was a huge debt – and the stress attached to that… they couldn’t see beyond it.”

She said that attending a summer school made her change her mind about seeing Oxford as a credible option.

Reaching out

Jo Dibb, head teacher of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in north London, said that poorer parents were often “desperate to support their children” – but couldn’t support their children as easily as better-off families and were afraid of getting into debt. She said the scholarships could help “the brightest young people who slip away now”. Mr Moritz, who went to school in Cardiff and attended Oxford in the 1970s, said that for families with £16,000 per year, the level of student debt represented a “terrifying figure”.

About one in 10 of Oxford’s students are from families with an income below this threshold – and the first wave of scholarships will be awarded this autumn. The intention is that within three years half of all eligible students will receive this support package – with the later aim of rolling it out to all students from such low-income families.

Earlier this week, the university admissions service, Ucas, published figures showing that applications had fallen by 8.9%, raising concerns that potential students were being deterred by the increase in fees.

Last week, the Office for Fair Access published a report showing that universities were switching more of their funding into outreach projects, such as summer schools. The fair access watchdog also produced figures comparing the proportion of students eligible for full state support – with Oxford having among the lowest levels of such poorer students.

The university has been investing heavily to attract students from a wider range of social backgrounds, putting £2.5m into outreach and £6.6m on bursaries. Oxford’s latest announcement of such a large-scale scholarship programme will raise comparisons with leading US universities. The income from endowments allows them to offer places to the most talented, regardless of income or nationality, with means-testing then determining any level of fee.

The biggest source of Harvard’s operating income is its endowments, worth £24bn at present. Fees provide only about a fifth of its operating costs.

Oxford’s biggest source of income is external research, accounting for two-fifths of income. Professor Hamilton said the challenge for UK universities facing budget pressures was to diversify their incomes – including encouraging such philanthropy as the donation from Mr Moritz and Ms Heyman.

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WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION AWARDS $15 MILLION FOR EDUCATION INNOVATIONS

In a signal of its growing reach into the city’s education sector, the William Penn Foundation will give $15 million to fund innovations in Philadelphia public, private, and charter schools over the next three years.

William Penn has pledged the money to the Philadelphia School Partnership, which will award grants to some schools this month, with other awards coming before the end of the year. It’s a major step forward in the newer nonprofit’s goal of raising $100 million in five years to speed up the pace of educational change.

Although William Penn has traditionally given grants in the “children, youth and families” arena, president Jeremy Nowak told The Inquirer that going forward, the foundation would focus more narrowly on “closing the achievement gap” for low-income students, with an emphasis on global standards.

“This is putting a stake in the ground about the need for great schools,” Nowak said in an interview.

Nowak said the gift would help foster the ideals of the Great Schools Compact, a document recently signed by representatives of the Philadelphia School District, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, charter school organizations, and city and state officials that pledges to close or overhaul 50,000 seats in “low-performing” schools and replace them with high-quality ones, possibly in charters, in the next five years.

“We love the idea of the compact,” Nowak said. “Close down what doesn’t work, scale up what does work, use good information.”

Janet Haas, a physician and William Penn’s board chair, said the new direction reflected the foundation’s view that “there are few issues more important to our region than closing the achievement gap and reforming Philadelphia’s broken schools.”

“The status quo has failed the children of this city for too long,” Haas said in a statement. “The costs of educational failure are too high. Solutions to Philadelphia’s difficult, long-term education problems are attainable, but they involve significant change, which won’t be easy.”

The moves by William Penn and the Philadelphia School Partnership are in line with the goals of the current School Reform Commission, which has signaled its plans for overhauling the district, closing struggling schools and expanding strong ones.

For the Philadelphia School Partnership, William Penn’s gift is just a start.

Executive director Mark Gleason said Thursday that while William Penn’s $15 million donation was its largest to date, the organization was close to announcing “additional large commitments that will bring us north of $30 million, maybe even north of $40 million,” in its “Great Schools Fund.”

The Philadelphia School Partnership hopes to award between $8 million and $12 million in grants this year, with up to $10 million to $15 million given in subsequent years, said Gleason, whose organization is not yet two years old but is clearly rising in influence.

“We are seriously looking at investments in the public district sector, the public charter sector, and the Catholic sector,” said Gleason, who also facilitates the work of the Great Schools Compact. He said about a dozen applications were being vetted across all those types of schools.

The organization awarded $2.4 million last year to charter providers turning around district schools. Mastery Charter Schools, Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania, and Universal Cos. Inc. all received funding in 2011 for their “Renaissance schools.”

In some cases, grants of a few hundred thousand dollars will pay for planning for schools that don’t yet exist; in others, the money will help new schools ready to open but in need of capital to buy computers, secure a building, or train staff, for instance; in still others, the money will help strong existing schools expand.

“We’re trying to raise $100 million, and if we do, we can have a direct impact on a large number of students – we’re scaling reform,” Gleason said. “Even more important, potentially, is that if we can raise $100 million from a broad cross-section of funders that cuts across traditional political and ideological boundaries, we think we can help to change the dialogue in Philadelphia away from the tension and rivalries between different kinds of schools and into a more collaborative focus on how we can all work together to make sure we have lots of good school options.”

In a city where there has historically been great tension, particularly between public and charter schools, that would represent a sea change.

Nowak said he believed William Penn’s donation encourages others to kick in to the Philadelphia School Partnership.

“We hope it will attract national money,” Nowak said. “That would be good. I think the Gates Foundation will put some money in, though at the end of the day, I love the idea that local philanthropy will put up the lion’s share.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already awarded Philadelphia a $100,000 planning grant for the work of the Great Schools Compact. The city is competing for more money from Gates.

The rising influence of William Penn and the Philadelphia School Partnership and the Great Schools Compact is not universally admired. Some fear that the compact gives short shrift to the district schools.

And when William Penn spent $1.5 million this year to fund the Boston Consulting Group’s examination of the district’s finances and operations to help arrive at an overhaul plan for the beleaguered organization, many were wary of a plan they call too corporate, too expensive, and too secret. District officials have since said their draft transformation plan is not final, is subject to more public input, and won’t be approved until next year.

“Unless you gave everybody ice cream, there was going to be some suspicion,” Nowak said of the plan.

Haas, the William Penn board chair, defended the decision to fund the consultants.

“The SRC wisely decided that it was time to get help from outside experts,” Haas said in a statement. “Insiders have not done a great job of helping our schools to succeed in recent years. BCG has an outstanding track record of helping to turn around urban districts in crisis, and we were more than happy to support their efforts to identify solutions. The cost of the work is not insignificant, but we think this is money well spent given how critical the success of the School District is to the futures of our children, families, and city.”

The consultants began work in the district this winter, but none of their findings have been made public. Haas said that BCG’s analysis and recommendations, due in a few days, will be “fully transparent.”

Gleason said that when the coming announcement about more money for the Philadelphia School Partnership is made, some donors have asked to remain anonymous, but most will be named.

“The folks who are critical or wary of these sorts of donations are missing the point, because they’re focusing on intentions or perceived intentions,” Gleason said. “What we’re trying to do here is get people focused on outcomes.”

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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GOODRICH FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANT TO WORKSHOPS FOR WARRIORS IN SAN DIEGO

Goodrich Foundation has awarded Workshop for Warriors (WfW) in San Diego, Calif. $100,000 to support its program that provides job training and skill certification to U.S. veterans at no cost to students. WfW provides training in welding, milling and machining for wounded, homeless veterans and service men and women about to transition out of active duty into civilian life. Thousands of veterans are expected to end their military careers over the next several months as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.

“One area of our giving focus at Goodrich is to honor the men and women who serve their country in the armed forces,” said Marc Duvall, president of Goodrich’s Aerostructures business. “Enabling Workshops for Warriors to provide much-needed job training to veterans one of the best ways that we as a company can tell our veterans, ‘Thank you for your service.'”

Many returning veterans will come through San Diego on their way back to their hometowns, making Workshops for Warriors ideally located to assist them with their career transitions. In addition to helping veterans establish careers in an extremely tight job market, the program also benefits the country.

“America is hungry for manufacturing employees; there are more than two million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S. right now,” Hernan Luis y Prado, president Workshops for Warriors said. “Hiring our graduates is a win-win for this country and the people who served it. We want to be a major driver for retraining the world’s greatest fighting force into the world’s most modern manufacturing force.”

Last month, Luis y Prado was recognized as a “Champion of Change” for establishing Workshops for Warriors and his dedication to helping members of the armed forces.

The Goodrich Foundation grant will be used to hire additional instructors in order to increase the number of graduates from Workshops for Warriors. The organization currently has a 100 percent job placement rate for its students.

This is the second Goodrich Foundation grant for the organization. In late 2011, WfW received a $25,000 grant to help it establish its curriculum. In addition, Goodrich Aerostructures business in Chula Vista, Calif., has donated nearly $1 million in equipment and materials to help WfW build out its class offerings. Additional information on the Workshops for Warriors can be found at http://www.workshopsforwarriors.org/

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Goodrich Foundation is the charitable arm of Goodrich Corporation. The Foundation provides support to selected charitable institutions in Goodrich’s United States headquarters and plant communities.

Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a global supplier of systems and services to the aerospace and defense industry. With one of the most strategically diversified portfolios of products in the industry, Goodrich serves a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and service facilities. For more information visit http://www.goodrich.com .

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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FACEBOOK FOUNDER & BROAD FOUNDATION TO PITCH IN MORE FOR NEW JERSEY SCHOOL REFORM

The Christie administration is harnessing funds from two high-profile private foundations to press some of its statewide education reforms.

The State Board of Education tomorrow will have two unusual resolutions before it to accept more than $600,000 in outside funds from two foundations:

  • $200,000 from StartUp:Education, the national foundation created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
  • $430,000 from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the California-based organization that has helped train and support three of the administration’s top education officials, including acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.

If approved as expected, the money will go to several distinct projects, officials said yesterday. The StartUp money will be earmarked for research into best practices around school turnarounds nationwide, and toward the hiring of a grant writer in the department to seek additional funds.

This funding is not connected with Zuckerberg’s separate $100 million gift to Newark schools, also through StartUp.

The Broad Foundation money would go to two places, according to officials: $290,000 for professional training of staff in the administration’s planned Regional Achievement Centers, the hub of its efforts for improving the state’s lowest-performing schools; and $140,000 to bolster the state’s oversight of charter schools. The outside funding is a new twist for the department that has been depleted in resources, even as Gov. Chris Christie presses a greater state presence in public schools, especially in low-performing schools.

Such foundations have contributed to New Jersey schools individually and through their districts for years, and Broad has paid for consultants for the state, including in Cerf’s first year.

Democratic legislators in recent hearings raised questions about the administration’s prolific use of per diem consultants, although it is a practice used by previous administrations as well.

Still, even though a relatively small sum of money, this would be the first time in recent memory that outside foundations have paid the state directly and played so overtly a role in helping develop statewide policy. The state board is required to approve such outside funds, a process rarely invoked.

“I’ve never seen a resolution like this before, not in my time on the board,” said Arcelio Aponte, the state board’s president.

A spokesman for Cerf said the department was seeking all the help it could get in what is a busy agenda that spans school turnarounds, charter schools, teacher tenure and evaluation reform, and new funding systems for schools.

“We are taking on a significant amount of work, and looking at every available opportunity for support,” said Justin Barra, the department’s communications director.

“Pending approval from the State Board, these grants will strengthen our efforts to turn around our lowest-performing schools and ensure that we provide all students in New Jersey with a high-quality public education.”

The involvement of the Broad Foundation especially is likely to cause a stir, as the group is linked to aggressive and oftentimes controversial reforms in schools, including outright closures and staff overhauls now being championed by Cerf and Christie as options for New Jersey.

Cerf, a former deputy chancellor in New York City, was a Broad fellow before taking the New Jersey position. Also going through Broad’s programs were assistant commissioners Peter Shulman and Penny MacCormack.

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KALAMAZOO COLLEGE TO RECEIVE $500,000 GRANT FROM ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION

Kalamazoo College will receive a $500,000 grant over four years from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its Shares Passages Seminars, which are considered a distinguishing part of the K-College experience.

The seminars, which were implemented in 2009, are a “unifying arc through K’s more open liberal arts curriculum,” according to the college.

Students are required to take a seminar course each year, except for junior year, when most are studying abroad.

The grant money will be used to support faculty development and enhancements for the seminars, which are designed to help students develop critical thinking and writing skills.

“This grant will afford faculty the opportunity to individually and collectively explore innovative and effective pedagogies, and develop new and revised course offerings in the seminar program,” said Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald.

The seminar topics, which all require critical thinking skills, include courses about religion, history, economics, social justice and global violence.

First-year students focus on writing, communication and global and intercultural ideas in their seminar course. Second-year seminars focus on ideas and concepts that help prepare the students for study abroad and living in a global world and senior seminars are designed to prepare students for life after graduation.

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BOSTON COLLEGE & BC HIGH SCHOOL RECEIVE $27 MILLION FROM ALUMNUS

A Southern California real estate investor and entrepreneur who cites his Jesuit education as a crucial influence in his personal formation and professional success has made two pledges totaling $27 million to Boston College and Boston College High School to name two facilities at his former schools.

A son of Irish immigrants who worked part-time in his father’s bar to pay his way through school, Patrick F. Cadigan, the retired CEO and President of Electronic Engineering Company of California (EECO), says the discipline and moral training of his Jesuit teachers helped him become one of Southern California’s most successful businessmen.

His $15 million pledge to Boston College will result in the June dedication of the Cadigan Alumni Center, a new facility that will house BC’s advancement offices and serve as a home-away-from-home for Boston College’s 162,000 alumni — the largest Catholic alumni association in the world.

Cadigan, a Corona del Mar resident whose investments make him the largest private real estate holder in Orange County, has pledged $12 million to BC High, the largest gift in the school’s history and the largest ever received by a Catholic secondary school in New England. Cadigan Hall will serve as a new center for fine and performing arts and recreation.

“My education at BC High and Boston College was a great experience that taught me the importance of hard work, and instilled in me values and discipline that stayed with me throughout my years,” said Cadigan. “The foundation I received at both schools left an indelible impression on me, and prepared me for success in business and in life.”

Boston College President Rev. William P. Leahy, SJ, praised Cadigan’s commitment to Jesuit education.

“Pat Cadigan moved out west as a young man, but never forgot his Boston roots and his affection for Boston College. We are grateful for his generous support and delighted to have our new alumni center bear his name.”

BC High President William Kemeza said Cadigan’s gift would have a lasting effect on future generations of students.

“The innovative building that we will construct in honor of this donation will stand as a witness to his generosity and loyalty to the Jesuits, his classmates and the students and teachers who will benefit so much from this new facility,” Kameza said.

In addition to leading EECO for nearly 20 years, Cadigan sat on the boards of high tech and electronics firms and served as chairman and CEO of several public companies, including Gateway Communications, Inc., and Linear Instruments Corporation.

“My parents were not able to obtain a formal education, so I felt a very personal responsibility to give back to those wonderful schools that educated and shaped me,” said Cadigan. “It is an honor for me to support these schools and to thank them for all that they have done for me.”

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LUMINA FOUNDATION AWARDS $4 MILLION IN FIRST-QUARTER GRANTS

Lumina Foundation awarded grants totaling nearly $4 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Lumina’s grant making reflects the Foundation’s commitment to three primary areas:

Preparation—Students are prepared academically, financially and socially for success in education beyond high school;

Success—Higher education completion rates are improved significantly; and,

Productivity—Higher education productivity is increased to expand capacity and serve more students.

Lumina recently issued the third edition of our signature report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, which breaks down higher education achievement rates by states and by county,” explained Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “These numbers are important not simply because of the opportunities that advanced education provides, but because our changing workforce dictates we will need dramatically higher number of workers in the next decade. Our grants this quarter support the work being done to make greater progress toward the Big Goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with high quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

Success (2 Grants)

Excelencia in Education (Washington, DC) $1,640,000 to strengthen the knowledge sharing, cultural competency, place-based collaboration, technical assistance, and communications strategies among thirteen communities striving to increase Latino student success.

United Negro College Fund (Fairfax, VA) $100,000 to support a strategic planning process to improve the operation and organizational performance of the United Negro College Fund.

Productivity (2 Grants)

The Education Conservancy (Portland, OR) $30,000 to publish research findings and policy recommendations that produced Consumer Union’s “Find the Best Colleges for You” guide.

HCM Strategists (Washington, DC) $2,197,500 to expand the Productivity Strategy Labs Network to 28 states in an effort to assist states in adopting, sustaining or enhancing efforts to cost-effectively graduate more students with high-quality degrees and credentials.

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Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners.  Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.  Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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