Advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need

Foundation Announces First Talent Development Award Recipient


LANSDOWNE, VA – As part of its October 27 Centennial Celebration to honor Jack Kent Cooke’s legacy, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced its first Talent Development Award. The Foundation presented $500,000 to the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut for its creation of the Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy in Hartford, Connecticut. In its three years of operations, the Academy has achieved outstanding academic results for high-potential elementary and middle school students who come from some of the most impoverished communities in the city of Hartford. 

Using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, a learning approach developed by Dr. Renzulli and used in hundreds of schools across the nation, the Academy provides students with an advanced curriculum focused on academic enrichment, engagement, and creative productivity.

“The main mission of the Academy,” said Dr. Renzulli, “is to give our young people the opportunity to gain entrance to four-year colleges, to competitive colleges, to post-college graduate schools and professional schools, and to make contributions in science, engineering, literature, art, and music.” 

Student success at the Renzulli Academy is unprecedented. For the past three years, Academy students have scored the highest Connecticut Mastery Test scores in the Hartford Public Schools. When compared with similar very low-income students who receive free and reduced-price meals throughout Connecticut, Academy seventh graders surpassed their peers by 40 percentage points. 

“Dr. Renzulli’s commitment to and proven success with these often-overlooked, talented children from low-income families is inspiring,” said Dr. Lawrence Kutner, Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. With this award, Dr. Renzulli will lead a team at the University of Connecticut to replicate the Academy’s model in at least three other urban school districts over the next two years. 

Criteria for the Foundation’s Talent Development Award include a deep commitment to identifying, cultivating, and promoting exceptionally talented students who have financial need; a focus on K-8 students; evidence of effectiveness; strong leadership; and a noteworthy, innovative program that can be replicated. 

Renzulli Academy from Jack Kent Cooke Foundation on Vimeo.

About Us

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to advance the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. We support students from elementary school to graduate school through scholarships, grants, and direct services. Our programs include the largest private scholarships in the US for students transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions, as well as generous scholarships for students in high school, college, and graduate school, and grants to organizations that serve high-potential students from under-resourced communities. 






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