Two significant gifts from Tom, Miami '59, and Sandy Sullivan are supporting Miami University initiatives that will have mutually beneficial impacts on both Miami students and the Greater Cleveland community.
Their support includes a $750,000 gift to endow the Thomas and Sandra Sullivan Cleveland Scholars, and a $160,000 gift, matching the support of the Cleveland Foundation, to launch and implement the Cleveland Urban Cohort through Miami's School of Education, Health and Society.
“As we learned about these programs and what Miami and the School of Education, Health and Society are all about, we became very intrigued,” Tom Sullivan said. “It’s important and wonderful that we’re able to connect our existing Sullivan Scholars program with our scholarship support of Miami University, and we’re excited to partner with the Cleveland Foundation in bringing Miami’s Urban Cohort program to Cleveland.”
Tom is a former Chair and CEO of RPM International—a multi-billion dollar specialty coating and sealant corporation founded by his father. He and Sandy have an extensive history of supporting educational opportunities in Cleveland, particularly the near West Side community. In 2002, as a gift honoring Tom’s retirement, a group including family and RPM’s leadership contributed to launch the Sullivan Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships to children in Northeast Ohio, primarily for K-12 education. It has already benefitted more than 100 youth, with 75 percent going on to college.
The Thomas and Sandra Sullivan Cleveland Scholars program will complement Miami’s Access Initiative, which was launched in 2007 to provide free tuition to Ohio students whose families make less than $35,0000 a year. The Sullivans’ endowment will provide scholarships for six or more students who qualify under the Access Initiative guidelines, with preference given to graduating Sullivan Scholars and other prospective Cleveland-area students.
“The Access Initiative has brought a Miami education within reach of more Ohio students who might not otherwise be able to afford such an opportunity,” said Brent Shock, director of student financial assistance. “Generous support like that provided through the Sullivan Cleveland Scholars program is essential to providing opportunities for more talented and deserving students.”
In addition to their scholarship support, the Sullivans have recognized the potential of Miami’s Urban Cohort program to have a broad impact on Cleveland’s near West Side community. Based on the Urban Teaching Cohort, which has been successfully implemented in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, the Urban Cohort program prepares students to work in urban communities by involving them in the lives of those communities through immersion experiences, service with community agencies and longer-term residential experiences.
“Tom and Sandy Sullivan are inspiring in their support of education, and we are humbled by their willingness to join the Cleveland Foundation in helping launch the Cleveland Urban Cohort program,” said Carine Feyten, dean of the School of Education Health and Society.
While the Cleveland Urban Cohort, which is being launched as a four-year pilot program, will follow a similar model to the Cincinnati-based program, it will explore a more holistic approach to meeting the needs of urban families. In addition to its focus on teacher preparation, the Cleveland program will involve students and faculty from other departments, including family studies, social work, educational leadership and kinesiology and health.
“Not only does the program have the ability to capture the hearts of our students,” said Tammy Schwartz, Urban Cohort director, “it also has a long-term impact on the young people and families in urban communities who will benefit from graduates who understand urban issues and who are prepared to make a difference.”
The Sullivans’ support adds to the $500-million Miami University campaign For Love and Honor, which, as the university’s most successful fund-raising campaign, has raised more than $435 million in support of Miami’s priority needs.