Nearly $9 million to Duquesne and Robert Morris universities to support ongoing collaboration for teacher education, student clinics to help people with dyslexia.
The Peirce Family Foundation has given nearly $9 million to two nationally renowned universities, Duquesne University and Robert Morris University, to support and extend programs focused on literacy education, with a special emphasis on dyslexia and related reading disabilities. Announced during National Dyslexia Awareness Month, the gift is the largest ever made in Pennsylvania by individuals to prepare teachers to help those with dyslexia, and among the largest gifts of such a focus ever made in the United States.
Of the total gift, Duquesne University received $4.47 million and Robert Morris University received $4.35 million.
The Peirces' gift extends for a decade their long-running philanthropic support of reading clinics at both institutions, where hundreds of children have strengthened their ability to read over the several years each clinic has offered these services. In addition, the gift provides extended commitment to scholarship agreements, which create opportunities for regional teachers to develop their skills to help students with dyslexia.
"For the last few years, our friends at Duquesne and Robert Morris have committed themselves to our vision of creating a regional network of education professionals who can help children succeed and learn in spite of challenges posed by dyslexia," said Bob Peirce. "Joan and I are thrilled to make this additional commitment today. We've met truly inspirational students and teachers who have made incredible progress in the last few years, and it is due to their inspiration and example that we are most excited to be making this additional gift."
The Peirce family committed $2 million to Robert Morris University in 2017 to establish the Bob and Joan Peirce Center for Structured Reading Teacher Training, which trains teachers to work with children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Robert Morris University also operates the RMU Dyslexia Outreach Network, which works with partner schools to share information about interventions for dyslexia and to provide professional development and training to its staff. This most recent Peirce gift will benefit RMU's reading clinic along with a scholarship program for passionate teachers who wish to pursue graduate-level education in reading.
"The Peirces have ensured that there will be a teacher in every school in the greater Pittsburgh area who has the tools and knowledge to help children with dyslexia," said Robert Morris University President Michelle Patrick. "This gift will have an impact for generations-an incredibly generous contribution to the people of Pittsburgh that will reverberate well beyond our region."
With its share of the gift, Duquesne University will establish the Bob and Joan Peirce Center for Dyslexia Education and Support in the University's School of Education. The Center's director will administrate the Peirce Family Scholarships in Reading and Literacy Education and oversee expanding the reach of the Duquesne University Reading Clinic.
The Peirce Family Scholarships at Duquesne enable teachers from elementary and secondary schools throughout the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to pursue masters of science degrees in reading and literacy education, incurring no tuition expenses in the process. Three cohorts of the Peirce Scholars already have started or earned degrees under the program.
"The Peirces' gift is as strategic as it is exemplary," said Duquesne University President Ken Gormley. "Their steady, effective approach is to teach the teachers, who can then impact many more students than all of our clinics combined. I've met young people who have benefitted from the teaching Peirce Scholars have provided, and it's truly an inspiration how their world opens up thanks to the dedicated efforts of people prepared with the right tools."