On October 27, 2012, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation hosted a reception in Washington, DC, to celebrate the life and legacy of its founder, a legendary figure whose estate established a foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. During the celebration the Foundation announced the recipient of the first Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Talent Development Award, the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut.
Thanks to this award, the Neag Center will receive a one-time grant of $500,000 to expand the Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy in Hartford, Connecticut. In its three years of operation, 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.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Neag Center were Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, the academy’s founders. This award will enable Dr. Renzulli to 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.
“This celebration was an opportunity for us to honor Jack Kent Cooke’s legacy in several different ways,” said Dr. Lawrence Kutner, the executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Because of his generosity, more than 1,300 students have received nearly $150 million in scholarships, and $81 million in grants have been awarded to educational institutions and organizations.”
More than 300 guests attended this celebration, including members of the Cooke family as well as friends and colleagues of the late Mr. Cooke. The guests enjoyed music performed by two Jack Kent Cooke Scholars, Marcus Ostermiller, a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar and classical pianist, and Anna Ji Eun Lee, a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar, From The Top Young Artist Award recipient, and violinist. They also heard presentations from Wanda Wiser and Stuart Haney of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Board of Directors; from Michelle Mitchell, Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar; and from John Kent Cooke, Mr. Cooke’s son and member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.