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February 24, 2007
Contact: Michael Chapman
(401) 863-2476

A $10-Million Endowment
Brown Announces Commitments to Providence Public Schools

Brown University is making a multimillion-dollar commitment to improving public education in the Providence area. Plans for a $10-million endowment, fellowships in urban education, and other measures were announced today by Brown President Ruth J. Simmons as part of the University’s response to the Slavery and Justice Report.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons today (Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007) announced a series of major new commitments to students in Providence public schools. These commitments are inspired in part by the report of the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. Simmons released the University’s response to that report this morning.

The University’s new commitments to Providence Schools include:

  • A $10-million endowment to create The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence. That endowment, which the University will begin raising immediately, will be invested within the University’s own endowment. The Brown Corporation will oversee annual expenditures from the fund, and those annual expenditures will be allocated by the University with input from the superintendent of Providence schools. A $10-million endowment could provide as much as $500,000 in the first year, with the amount growing as the principal increases.
  • As many as 10 new Urban Education Fellows will be available each year. Urban Education Fellows are graduate students who agree to serve Providence-area schools for at least three years after they earn a Master of Arts in Brown’s Urban Education Policy Program or a Master of Arts in Teaching. Urban Education Fellows who satisfy the three-year commitment will have their tuition paid by the University.

“One of the clearest messages in the Slavery and Justice Report is that institutions of higher education must take a greater interest in the health of their local communities, especially Kindergarten through 12th-grade education,” Simmons said. “Lack of access to a good education, particularly for urban schoolchildren, is one of the most pervasive and pernicious social problems of our time. Colleges and universities are uniquely able to improve the quality of urban schools. Brown is committed to undertaking that work.”

The Slavery and Justice Report, a three-year research and public affairs project released by the University last fall, outlines in considerable detail the history of slavery and slave-trading in Rhode Island and elsewhere in New England. It found that some of the University’s early benefactors were involved in the slave trade, and that the University benefited from their involvement.

In addition to the new commitments to Providence public schools, Simmons outlined several other provisions in the University’s response:

  • A suitable memorial. The University will ask city and state officials to join it in forming a commission to determine how the history of the slave trade in Rhode Island might best be acknowledged in a memorial.
  • Distribution and presentation of information. The University will distribute the report and will develop a schedule of exhibitions to make important materials more readily available. The report itself will remain on the University’s Web site (, and printed copies will also be made available.
  • Academic initiatives. The University will appoint a committee of experts to explore how best to carry out a major research and teaching initiative on issues of slavery and justice, building on resources in its academic departments and centers. The University will also appoint a team of outside experts to recommend how it might strengthen its Department of Africana Studies.
  • Continuing academic partnerships. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Brown began providing technical assistance to a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s). That program proved to be of exceptional benefit to both Brown and its HBCU partners; the University will expand this program to include additional institutions. The University will also strengthen and expand its exchange program with Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., a program that has existed since the mid-1960s.

Finally, Brown University will continue to support all its existing programs for the benefit of Providence public schools, including administrative support for the superintendent’s office, mentoring and tutoring programs, professional development for teachers, funds for equipment and other efforts.

Editors: The full text of the Slavery and Justice Report, together with the text of the University’s official response, is available from the Office of Media Relations and on the University’s Web site at

Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.