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UChicago Receives $10 Million Gift National Spotlight

Friday, January 17, 2014

President Obama highlights University of Chicago's $10 million commitment to college opportunity

In an initiative highlighted by President Barack Obama, the University of Chicago will promote college readiness and success for underserved students across the nation, with support from a $10 million gift from University Trustee Steven Kersten and his wife, Priscilla Kersten.

President Obama highlighted the University’s groundbreaking efforts in remarks delivered at a White House summit Thursday, Jan. 16. The initiative, which builds on the work of researchers and practitioners at the University’s Urban Education Institute, will bring evidence-based tools and training to 10,000 schools across the nation over the next five years. It also will provide policymakers, elected officials and education leaders with the best evidence available to promote college preparation, access and success.

“We know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps 
required to prepare for college,” Obama said at the event. 
“That’s why I’m glad the University of Chicago—my neighbor, and the place 
where Michelle and I both worked in the past—
is announcing a $10 million college success initiative 
that will reach 10,000 high schools over the next five years.” 

The White House released a summary document entitled, "Commitments to Action on College Opportunity" from the Executive Office of the President on January 16, 2014.  Download it here.

The Kersten gift for the Urban Education Institute will help the institute become a national locus for knowledge, policy guidance and examples of education innovation for improving urban schooling.

University President Robert J. Zimmer joined other university and college presidents at Thursday’s White House summit, as well as officials of the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Education, in a series of panels and breakout discussions on issues surrounding college success. The group also heard remarks by both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Zimmer said the nation’s urban research universities have a special role to play in leading college access and readiness efforts, bringing their intellectual resources to bear on the fundamental challenges facing the nation’s cities. That distinctive contribution, he said, is what inspired the Urban Education Institute, which brings together applied and scholarly research, teacher education, the operation of a prekindergarten-to-12th-grade charter school educating 1,700 students on four campuses, and the creation and dissemination of research-based and practice-proven tools to schools nationwide.

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