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Harvard Graduate School of Education Receives $35M Early-Childhood Grant


The Harvard Graduate School of Education has received $35.5 million—the largest grant in the graduate school's history—to establish the university as a leader in early-childhood research. 

The money comes from the Saul Zaentz Early-Childhood Initiative. Zaentz was a record and movie producer; he won Best Picture Academy Awards for three movies: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Amadeus," and "The English Patient." He died in 2014 at age 92.

The money also one of the largest-ever gifts to a university to support early-childhood education, according to a story about the donation in Harvard Magazine. [CORRECTION: (May 20) An earlier version of this report cited information provided by Harvard University that this gift was the largest given to a university for early childhood education and research. The largest gift was given to create the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska.)

A portion of the funds will be used to launch the Harvard Early-Learning Study, which will follow a sample of linguistically, socioeconomically, and racially diverse 3-year-olds for five years.  The study is intended to study child development and early-learning environments. 

The university said that the gift will also be used to establish the Saul Zaentz Academy for Professional Learning in Early Childhood. The academy will offer online and in-person training opportunities for early-childhood educators and researchers.  

A third major project to be funded throgh the grant is the Saul Zaentz Fellows Program. The program will fund eight new master's degree fellowships and one new fellowship in the educational leadership doctorate track. 

Two new endowed chairs will support faculty who will help run the initiative's various programs. 

"The Saul Zaentz Early-Childhood Initiative is a bold and forward-thinking investment in the field of early-childhood education. It is perfectly aligned with HGSE's mission of expanding educational opportunity and improving outcomes, especially for our most vulnerable children," said James Ryan, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in a statement. 

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