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$25 Million gift from Lizzie and Jon Tisch to Frederick Gunn School
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$25 Million gift from Lizzie and Jon Tisch to Frederick Gunn School

The Frederick Gunn School received a $25 million gift from Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, the largest philanthropic commitment in the 172-year history of the school. Inspired by a nearly 60-year connection to The Frederick Gunn School, the gift demonstrates the family’s tremendous philanthropic partnership with the school.

The gift will allow construction of the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship with a targeted opening in the fall of 2023. This new academic building will be located in the center of campus, allowing the school to house its innovative science, math, engineering, technology, entrepreneurship, and citizenship curriculum in one location overlooking the school’s historic Quad.

“The Frederick Gunn School is changing the way people think about what a school is capable of doing. We are excited to help accelerate this transformation — a strategic vision that has been crafted and led by Peter Becker for the last nine years. In important ways, the strategic path is relentlessly committed to the school’s founder and namesake, Frederick Gunn.

Mr. Gunn was a transformative leader, a pioneering educator, and a courageous abolitionist. He inspired students to be curious and thoughtful, to be active citizens, and to stand up for what they believe in — his ideas are as relevant today as they were 172 years ago. The school’s leadership continues to commit itself to investments supporting the best boarding school experience that is the modern embodiment of Frederick Gunn’s ideals and there has been no better moment than now to help accelerate this momentum,” said Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch.

The opening of the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship will continue the transformation of the school’s campus in Washington, Connecticut. With the opening of the building in the fall of 2023, the school will fully integrate its science, math, engineering, technology, entrepreneurship, and citizenship classes in the center of campus. The building will act as an interdisciplinary hub of learning, including state-of-the-art labs that will allow students and faculty to turn ideas into action.

Students will experience learning environments dedicated to helping them to be curious, solve problems, take risks, think independently, and develop strength of character. Interdisciplinary classes will promote rigorous and reasoned dialogue, rational debate, and ultimately, active citizenship. Through this innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum that is connected to a four-year program of active citizenship development, students will learn what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century, what it takes to persuade others and to lead, and what it means to be an engaged group member. Learning to be an active and engaged citizen is Frederick Gunn’s legacy to the school, and by bringing all of these curricular and character initiatives together in one building, graduates will be forces for good as they move on to their respective colleges, workplaces, and communities, equipped to be the next generation of leaders.

“We are grateful for the continued confidence and partnership of Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch as all members of The Frederick Gunn School community work together to move our Strategic Plan forward. The gift is a bold move that expands our partnership with a family committed to the pursuit of teaching young people the importance of being deeply curious learners and engaged and active citizens. There is no better environment for a teenager to explore being an active and engaged member of a community than at boarding school. On our campus this pursuit aligns with the mission set forth by our founder in 1850 and is even more relevant today as future leaders enter into an increasingly complicated, interconnected world. The generosity of Lizzie and Jon will immediately contribute to the ongoing transformation of our campus and, more importantly, will further accelerate the curricular programming initiatives already underway that build on Mr. Gunn’s values that so profoundly encourage active citizenship,” said Peter Becker, Head of School.

Jonathan Tisch has a distinguished commitment to furthering education through many of his philanthropic initiatives. In addition to being a longtime supporter of The Frederick Gunn School, Mr. Tisch has invested in educational missions at New York University and Tufts University. Through his extraordinary philanthropic commitment to Tufts University in 2006 for the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, his visionary leadership has shaped a curriculum committed to encouraging students to take part in something greater than themselves that will enable them to effect lasting social change. Following two decades of success inspiring young minds to be active citizens at Tufts University, the opening of the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship on The Frederick Gunn School campus in the fall of 2023 will bring a similar commitment of being an engaged citizen to the unique opportunities of a boarding school environment.

Combined with the founding principles of Frederick Gunn, this new building in the heart of the school’s campus will usher in the next generation of the school’s commitment to ensuring that its students become lifelong learners and principled, active citizens.


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