Former Citigroup CEO Weill and wife make $5 million gift to UM to help Detroit kids

September 24, 2019
Joan and Sanford Weill, former CEO and chairman of Citigroup Inc.

Sherri Welch

Sanford Weill, former chairman and CEO of Citigroup Inc., and his wife Joan have made a $5 million gift to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

The gift, made through the Weill Family Foundation and announced Tuesday, will support education and the creation of workforce opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented youth in Detroit.

It will be divided into two major parts to provide support for UM and high school students in the state.

Half of the money will establish a Youth Fund, which will be used to support collaborations with NAF, a national network of education, business and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are ready for college, careers and the future.

The other $2.5 million of the Weills’ gift will establish the Weill Scholars Fund at the Ford School to provide tuition support and stipends for graduate students who come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and are committed to advancing diversity in public policy.

“We are excited that this agreement brings together one of the most prominent public institutions in the country with one of the most innovative leaders in public high school education — UM and NAF — to tackle an important public policy issue of our time: educating the underrepresented to fill the jobs available in today’s economy,” Joan and Sanford Weill said in a joint statement. “We look forward to this partnership making a positive difference in the lives of many deserving students in Detroit and the surrounding communities and supporting the future public policy leaders at the Ford School.”

The Youth Fund will support summer camps and academic opportunities for Detroit students working with NAF and other Detroit school students to explore science and technology fields and careers and engage in college readiness preparation. It will also provide research, student support, internships and other activities to advance educational access and workforce development, UM said in a news release.

Those initiatives, which will come together as the NAF Future Ready Scholars at UM, will involve collaborations across campus, including the College of Engineering’s Michigan Engineering Zone, Wolverine Pathways and the Youth Policy Lab at the Ford School of Public Policy, along with other stakeholders such as Detroit public schools.

NAF works with more than 100,000 students in 617 career-themed academies including finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering and health sciences in 35 states across the U.S., the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. There are more than 20 NAF academies in Detroit. Ninety-nine percent of NAF’s students graduate, with 87 percent going on to postsecondary education — often as the first in their families to attend college, UM said.

The Weills were among the original signatories to The Giving Pledge in 2010, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

The couple’s latest gift to UM follows $8 million in gifts made to the Ann Arbor-based university in 2006 to establish the Joan and Sanford Weill Hall as the home to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and endow the position of the school’s dean.

Over the past four decades, the Weills have donated more than $1 billion to educational, medical, cultural and arts institutions, most recently to Weill Cornell Medicine for debt-free medical education for students who qualify for financial need, according to UM.

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