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$20 million gift from Carrie Walton Penner and family to education
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$20 million gift from Carrie Walton Penner and family to education

A $20 million donation to Howard University from Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner will support the GRACE Grant Endowed Fund, an initiative to eliminate college costs and keep first-year students enrolled through graduation.

The GRACE (Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence) Grant program provides a 100% match to first-time undergraduate students who receive the maximum Pell Grant from the federal government, with additional funds available to students who have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0. The average four-year graduation rate for EFC $0 GRACE recipients is 42 percent higher than those in the same category who did not receive GRACE funds.

“I am extremely grateful to Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner for their support of Howard students through the GRACE Grant, which benefits our undergraduate students who face financial barriers to completing their studies on time,” said Howard University president Ben Vinson III, Ph.D. “Thanks to this generous contribution, we can expand our ability to offer this important resource and ensure that students most in need can fulfill their dreams of completing their education at Howard University.”

Vinson, who became the 18th president of Howard University in September, expressed gratitude to his predecessor President Emeritus Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, FACS, for his efforts instituting the GRACE Grant program in 2014 and garnering the necessary support, including from the Penners.

“I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Dr. Frederick, whose work over the years has laid a solid foundation for the University,” Vinson said. “The fact that he advocated for the establishment of the GRACE grants is an indication of his extraordinary compassion for and dedication to Howard University students.”

The Penners are long-time advocates of initiatives that provide every child access to high-quality educational opportunities.

“Education is about helping students reach their full potential,” said Carrie Walton Penner. “The GRACE Grant program empowers students during a crucial moment in their academic lives through to college graduation.”

Carrie and Greg added that they hope their support for the GRACE Grant program encourages others to do the same.

“We admire Howard University’s mission to produce leaders for America and the global community,” said Greg Penner, “and are thrilled to support their work to make sure finances do not cut promising college careers short.”

Carrie Walton Penner is owner of the Denver Broncos and serves on the Walton Family Foundation board. Greg Penner is owner and CEO of the Denver Broncos and serves as chairman of the Walmart Board of Directors. Together, they founded the Penner Family Foundation.

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced three Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States.


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