On January 13, the University of Pennsylvania announced an inspirational $18 million donation from Scott and Elena Shleifer to increase support and critical resources for students who are part of the first generation of their families to attend college. and/or from modest or limited income households. . This philanthropic support for Penn First Plus (P1P) will have a transformative impact on the program that directly affects many Penn students. Nearly 20 percent of undergraduates benefit from the Penn First Plus program, and this academic year, one in seven freshmen at Penn are the first in their family to attend college.
Penn First Plus was established in 2018 by Penn President Amy Gutmann and University leaders to ensure that all students, regardless of financial or family circumstances, can experience the full breadth of an education Penn. It is a comprehensive, multi-faceted initiative comprising financial, academic, and programmatic elements, with a dedicated physical space at the heart of campus. This space in Penn’s iconic College Hall will now be known as the Shleifer Family Penn First Plus Center.
“I am thrilled and deeply grateful to Scott and Elena Shleifer for their incredible commitment to supporting such an important college priority as Penn First Plus,” said President Gutmann. “As a scholarship recipient myself, I know how life-changing student aid is. I also know that tuition support is often not enough. This donation will enable our university to foster an ever more welcoming and inclusive learning environment to prepare all Penn students for a successful life. We are proud that the Penn First Plus Center is named after the Shleifer family. »
Increasing access and strengthening student support have been core priorities for the University during President Gutmann’s tenure. The Shleifers’ gift is one of the most transformative investments Penn has received for this community of undergraduates. It provides stable funding for the program through an endowment, as well as an incentive for others to join them in this effort. Their donation includes the creation of a one-time challenge fund to match donors who establish financial aid endowments for Penn First Plus initiatives.
At the Shleifer Family Penn First Plus Center, students in the Penn First Plus community can access comprehensive resources from across the University. They can also meet the professional staff at Penn First Plus and connect with experts in academic support, financial aid, wellness, and career services. The Penn First Plus office is led by Executive Director Marc Lo and Co-Heads of Faculty Camille Charles, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor of Social Sciences, and Robert Ghrist, Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Systems at Andrea Mitchell University. Engineering. These renowned Penn professors work with faculty to create greater awareness of the attributes of Penn First Plus students. Their peer faculty trainings cover academic transition, promoting academic success, and fostering a sense of belonging on campus. The faculty co-directors and the executive director of Penn First Plus also advise the Pre-Freshman program, which prepares students for their undergraduate experience through a four-week summer immersion in campus life and the academic rigors of Penn. .
“Our goal is to ensure that any student, regardless of background, can get the most out of a Penn education,” Dr. Lo said. “With this phenomenal gift, we plan to deepen our efforts to improve student academic achievement, create more opportunities for students to find community and a sense of belonging, increase participation in extracurricular experiences, and, of course, safe, further relieve financial pressures. from college. We thank the Shleifers for enhancing our ability to provide these unique and holistic services to students.
“Every student deserves the chance to have the best undergraduate experience possible,” Dr. Charles said. “This remarkable donation not only strengthens the foundations of this program, but raises the ceiling of what we can do to fulfill its vital mission.”
“Over the past few years, we have seen so many Penn First Plus students develop a sense of trust and belonging at Penn. These students have earned admission to Penn and, like all students, they deserve the support that will propel them to success,” said Dr. Ghrist. “The best part is we’re just getting started.”
A major component of the Shleifers’ donation will be increased financial assistance, which is the cornerstone of Penn First Plus. Of Penn’s roughly 10,000 undergraduates, about half receive need-based financial aid. Ten percent receive the University’s most generous and comprehensive financial aid programs for highly supported students, covering needs such as laptops, meals and vacation travel, emergency grants and funds for summer internships, research, study abroad programs and university courses.
“Attending Penn has had an extremely positive impact on my life. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities this great university has provided me, and it is my privilege to help provide the same opportunities for other students,” said Scott Shleifer, “Elena and I hope this gift will allow many more bright young minds to benefit from a Penn education so they can create the best life for themselves and their families for generations to come. “
Mr. Shleifer graduated in 1999 from the Wharton School. He is a partner in investment firm Tiger Global Management and co-founder of its venture capital business. Scott and Elena Shleifer’s other gifts to Penn include several undergraduate scholarships, as well as support for the Graduate School of Education, the Wharton School, and other university-wide initiatives.