The cofounder of a Bay Area global investment firm is donating $1 million to the College of Education at Northern Arizona University.
George Roberts, who is the co-chairman and co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, will donate $1 million, which will be used to provide $5,000 scholarships to support students during their student-teaching semester. He is establishing the fund in honor of William A. Franke, cofounder and managing partner of Indigo Partners, for whom the W. A. Franke College of Business at NAU is named. Franke has spent much of his life working to improve the lives of Arizonans by raising their educational attainment level.
“We are incredibly grateful for George Roberts’ generosity,” said Rita Hartung Cheng, president of NAU. “There is a significant need for high-quality teachers and through this gift, George Roberts and Bill Franke will ensure that NAU students will become those exceptional teachers.”
The scholarships will be available to students with demonstrated financial need who are first-generation college students and from traditionally underrepresented demographic groups. Recipients of these awards will be known as Franke Scholars.
NAU opened in 1899 as a teacher preparation program and has continued to produce teachers who are able to step into the classroom and effectively teach. It is the only teacher preparation program in the state that is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
The College of Education has worked to increase outreach to high-risk schools and nontraditional teachers, including offering support to teachers who are in schools but do not have a teaching certification.
Most of Roberts’ philanthropic efforts are in California, and education has been a priority for him. He has served as a director or trustee of several cultural and educational institutions, including Claremont McKenna College. Roberts’ spouse, Linnea, sits on the board of Teach for America.
Roberts is founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, a San Francisco nonprofit organization that focuses on job creation. He founded the Roberts Foundation in 1985 and has used the foundation to provide funding to nonprofits in the area of education, poverty and the environment.