Philanthropist donates $28M to National University

SAN DIEGO - National University Tuesday announced a $28 million donation, the largest in the San Diego-based school's history, by longtime backer T. Denny Sanford.

The money will be used to nationally roll out three education initiatives that carry his name and address needs in teacher education, social skills of children and nonprofit fundraising.

"We are very appreciative to have received this historic gift, which affirms the remarkable impact of these initiatives and allows for us to expand even further the capacity of these programs to transform the lives of our children, schools and communities," said Michael Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System, a network of nonprofit education institutions.

"We are honored to carry out the vision of Denny Sanford, who is the inspiration and driving force behind these programs, and we are dedicated to ensuring their impact will last for generations," Cunningham said.

The programs include Sanford Harmony, Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy.

According to National University, Harmony is a pre-K through sixth-grade social and emotional learning program that promotes positive peer interactions and communication among boys and girls. It's been adopted by some of the nation's largest school districts in more than three dozen states, and Boys and Girls Clubs

The Inspire program provides support for teacher education, primarily through online video systems developed in partnership with Teach for America and Arizona State University.

The philanthropy institute provides a training course for nonprofit fundraisers.

"Helping others is what this is all about, and it's why I'm so pleased to recognize the remarkable impacts these three programs are having nationwide," said Sanford, who earned his fortune in the credit card industry. "What started out as a dream is now a reality, and to me the greatest gift of all is being able to see for myself how these programs are strengthening our communities and helping children succeed in school and life."

The donation brings total funding for the programs to around $70 million -- from a combination of donations by Sanford, Cunningham, anonymous donors and matching funds from the university.