The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence is a permanent $10 million endowment that provides sustainable financial support from Brown University for initiatives that promote academic excellence and success for current and future generations of K-12 students in Providence.

As one element in a wide-ranging partnership between the University and the Providence Public School District (PPSD), the Fund advances initiatives each year to improve teaching and learning in local classrooms, ensure access to high-quality education for students and support a turnaround action plan launched by the Rhode Island Department of Education and PPSD in June 2020.

History and Impact

The University established the Fund in 2007 as one outcome of a report issued by Brown’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, which investigated the University’s historical relationship to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The committee recommended that as one measure to recognize its historic ties to slavery, Brown should renew and formalize its commitment to improving the quality of education available to K-12 students in Providence.

In 2009, Brown began awarding grants from the Fund, ranging from $1,000 to $118,000 and supporting initiatives including library acquisitions, music instruction, reading interventions and the creation of a violence prevention curriculum. Four years later, the University and local education leaders shifted the Fund’s focus, providing 20 scholarships of $2,500 each to graduating high school seniors in Providence annually. Awards were based on academic achievement and financial need, with a preference for students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Between 2013 and 2018, the Fund provided $300,000 in scholarships to 120 college-bound students.

In the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Brown provided $100,000 from the Fund to deliver internet access to 900 student households for a full year as PPSD’s learners transitioned to remote instruction. A project launched in summer 2020 supported through the Fund is transforming Hope High School’s library and media center into a 21st century learning environment for students in the Providence secondary school.

In July 2020, the Corporation of Brown University authorized the designation of $8.1 million in unrestricted University-endowed funds to complement $1.9 raised over the years from donor support for the Fund, achieving the full funding goal established when the fund was launched. With $10 million in principal, Brown expects an initial payout of approximately $400,000 to $500,000 annually. While this serves as the core of consistent financial support, the University will continue to invest in a wide range of additional programs and initiatives that support Providence schools and students. 

Public Education Committee 

A Public Education Committee established in 2020 provides oversight for Brown’s relationship with PPSD. The committee is charged with recommending use of payouts from the Fund in ways that can most benefit Providence students. Members also play a key role in guiding the direction of K-12 education initiatives at Brown and ensuring that Brown is optimizing its resources to support PPSD in the most effective ways possible.

The committee meets at least two times over the course of each academic year. Every three years the committee will conduct a review of the distribution of proceeds from The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence and oversee a survey on the same schedule that will provide an assessment of Brown’s K-12 education initiatives and their alignment with evolving PPSD priorities.

The membership of the committee is structured to ensure collaboration across the University as well as with members of the greater Providence community. Members include:

  • The Brown University president (chair)
  • Brown faculty
  • Brown students
  • Current or emeritus members of the Brown Corporation
  • Members of the Greater Providence community
  • Five ex-officio members of the Brown community:
    • The Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity
    • The Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform
    • The Chair of the Department of Education
    • The Director of the Swearer Center for Public Service
    • The Education Coordinator in the Annenberg Institute
  • Two ex-officio, non-voting members:
    • The Superintendent of the Providence Public School District
    • The Mayor of the City of Providence. 

The Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President will staff the committee.

A Broader Partnership 

The Fund is one among dozens of new and enduring community engagement efforts led by Brown faculty, staff and students that complement the district’s work to educate K-12 students in the city.

Brown has devoted more than $800,000 annually in recent years to provide high-impact experiences for Providence youth, support initiatives to improve educational outcomes and enhance students’ access to Brown summer programs. Brown faculty, staff and students also contribute thousands of volunteer hours to support PPSD students.

The Swearer Center organizes a range of community engagement activities that include partnership with local schools, including Brown After School Mentoring, in which nearly 100 Brown students provide after-school enrichment at William D’Abate Elementary School each week during the school year. Brown’s Department of Education and Annenberg Institute for School Reform work directly with PPSD schools and students in a variety of ways — embedding Master of Arts in Teaching students in classrooms as teachers for a full school year, coordinating a summer education program for high school students in Providence and Central Falls, and embarking on research that helps schools confront problems such as opportunity inequality and learning loss.

To create greater alignment and coordination across Brown’s many K-12 education activities, Brown created the position of education coordinator, located in the Annenberg Institute, in 2020. The education coordinator has the responsibility of coordinating Brown’s community engagement activities in public education and serving as the primary point of connection between the University and local school districts.

Links and Resources

Brown News about the Fund