Suzanne McGraw Foundation makes $5 million gift to Penn GSE around early childhood education

The gift is one of the largest ever to the School. It will support student scholarships, a cross-University graduate concentration, and cross-disciplinary programming.

Sue McGraw.
Educator and philanthropist Suzanne McGraw. (Image: Courtesy of Penn GSE)

The Suzanne McGraw Foundation has made a $5 million commitment in support of the top-ranked University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE).

The gift, one of the largest ever to the School, builds on Penn GSE’s strengths in early childhood education and family studies. The funding will support student scholarships, a cross-University graduate concentration, and cross-disciplinary programming aimed at cultivating a new generation of highly skilled educators, leaders, researchers, and policymakers who are optimally positioned to serve our youngest children and those who care for them.

“Suzanne McGraw’s unwavering commitment to education is an inspiration,” said Penn President Liz Magill. “This important gift will allow our students to become early childhood educators without the burden of overwhelming debt and will capitalize on Penn’s interdisciplinary strengths to enhance early childhood development and management. We are most grateful for Suzanne’s generosity and her dedication to GSE’s mission.”

“The need for more highly skilled early childhood education professionals has never been greater,” said Suzanne McGraw, educator and philanthropist. “I’m delighted to partner with Penn GSE to create an innovative curriculum in early childhood and family studies and to provide scholarships that will encourage students to enter the field. Hopefully, this gift will help educators, policymakers, counselors, and others learn best practices and work effectively with young children and their families to create the foundation necessary for future success.”

The commitment provides funding for two key initiatives focused on early childhood education:

  • Suzanne McGraw Scholars: The commitment directs $2.5 million to endow scholarships for Penn GSE master’s students who are passionate about early childhood education. The endowment will be used to recruit outstanding students from across the country and world to become leaders in the field.
  • New cross-disciplinary concentration in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies: $2.5 million in funding will be dedicated to seed funding and an endowment for ongoing early childhood program development and management, creating both a University-wide graduate concentration and new opportunities for students interested in early childhood. The concentration will be open to graduate students from across Penn to provide preparation for a holistic approach to early childhood education.

“Suzanne McGraw is a passionate advocate for our youngest children and understands the impact that strong early childhood education has on a child’s future,” said Pam Grossman, dean of Penn GSE and George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education. “We are tremendously grateful for her lifelong dedication to the field. Her gift helps us create bold solutions that build on our legacy of providing well-prepared early childhood experts focused on creating transformational opportunities for children with a lasting impact.”

Penn GSE already provides significant research and support for early childhood education, with a renowned faculty that includes Vivian Gadsden, the William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education; Sharon Wolf; A. Brooks Bowden; and María Cioè-Peña. Initiatives affiliated with the School include the Penn Child Research Center, the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education, the RIPPLE Lab, and Actionable Intelligence in Social Policy (housed at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice).

The gift from McGraw follows the landmark $16.25 million commitment to Penn GSE from the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Family Foundation, of which Suzanne McGraw is an officer, to fund the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education and launch the McGraw Center for Educational Leadership.

The Suzanne McGraw Foundation supports organizations that advance educational opportunities, self-sufficiency, and health and wellness, especially for the most vulnerable communities. The Foundation also supports organizations that promote environmental conservation and the delicate balance between nature and its species.