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Report: Brown fails to fulfill $10M pledge for local schools

September 10, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Brown University has failed to fulfill its promise of a $10 million endowment fund benefiting Providence schools, according to a report Tuesday by The Boston Globe.

The newspaper reported that the Ivy League university pledged to establish the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence in 2007, based on recommendations from a committee that investigated the university’s involvement with the slave trade.

Brown raised just $1.9 million from private donations. Spokesman Brian Clark explained the shortfall by saying that the fund “didn’t resonate as much with donors.”

In 2013, Brown said the fund would be used to provide college scholarships for Providence public high school graduates, rather than direct grants to local schools.

There is no formal agreement with the city to raise $10 million, but Clark said Brown remains committed to securing donations for the fund and separately providing money to the district using its own operating budget.

Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza wrote to Brown last year, concerned about the pace of fundraising. He said the money was meant to support “those disadvantaged by the legacies of slavery” and asked the university to contribute $600,000 annually.

University President Christina Paxson responded with a letter saying that Brown spends at least $840,000 annually supporting city schools and students, including scholarships for college and summer programs.

Most of the funds are from the school’s operating budget since fundraising hasn’t been strong, Clark said Tuesday.

Brown said it formed a task force this summer to determine how the university can best support public education and craft a new strategy for the fund, while it continues supporting Providence in other ways too. For instance, Clark added that the university pays property taxes for properties that aren’t considered taxable because of the nonprofit status and faculty, staff and students spent thousands of hours volunteering each year.

Brown’s task force expects to make recommendations this fall.

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy said this summer that Providence is among the nation’s worst public school systems. The public school district serves about 24,000 students.

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