Madison, Wis. (Dec. 18, 2007) – The Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, Inc. (FFWS) today announced a founding gift from John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge of $175 million. The gift will create a permanent endowment to provide financial grants for eligible, talented graduates attending a Wisconsin public post-secondary school.

Details of the FFWS will be unveiled at a press conference in Green Bay on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. The press conference will be held in the historic Old Library at West High School, 966 Shawano Ave. The Morgridges will explain the decision to establish the Fund, and will take questions from students in grades 9-12 and from the media. Superintendent of Schools Daniel Nerad will open the event. “We have chosen to make the announcement at a public high school in Green Bay to underscore the Fund’s commitment to students from every part of the state,” said Tashia Morgridge, a retired elementary school teacher and active member of many education-related boards and commissions. “Wisconsin’s public high schools do an outstanding job of preparing students for higher education. We are committed to helping ensure that higher education is accessible and affordable.”

The FFWS will award close to 2,000 grants of $1000 to $5000 for the 2008-2009 school year and over 3,000 grants annually thereafter to eligible students. Grants are gifts and do not need to be repaid. These grants will be in addition to the state and federal grants that many students are already receiving. The purpose of the FFWS is to reduce financial barriers to college and to lighten the debt that most Wisconsin students incur during their college years. The grants come as a response to the gap created by decreased government aid and the increased costs of college education. The grants will be awarded through the University of Wisconsin System two and four year colleges and the Wisconsin Technical College System schools to eligible students.

The Morgridges’ commitment to social philanthropy, their childhood home of Wisconsin (Tashia and John are graduates of Wauwatosa High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and accessible, affordable education for young people inspired their creation of this foundation. They believe strongly that establishing a permanent endowment supporting educational access is a means of ensuring the opportunity for generations of young people to further their education. After studying the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation education initiatives and Governor Jim Doyle’s Covenant program, as well as other scholarship and grant programs, the Morgridges decided to make a strong statement in support of the young people of the State of Wisconsin by creating this endowment. The Fund will complement the Wisconsin Covenant, which the Legislature authorized in the state budget. The Covenant promises a spot at a state college or university to students who maintain good grades and stay out of trouble.

The Morgridges’ giving consistently includes other participants, and is grounded in their desire to be catalysts facilitating change and causing good things to happen. Their hope is that their giving will stimulate rather than diminish other funding and giving. “This is just the start,” said John Morgridge, who is former chair of Cisco Systems. “We believe that the fund will grow substantially as others are inspired to join us in this effort.”

Also participating in the press conference is the Fund’s Executive Director, Mary Gulbrandsen, who retired in June as the Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Student Services for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Other members of the Fund’s board of trustees who will be present include Ted Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Management in Milwaukee; and the Morgridges. David Ward, former UW-Madison chancellor, is also a member of the board of trustees but is unable to be present.

The Morgridges’ commitment to their home state and to higher education is apparent in their giving. Among other things, they have supported scholarships at Alverno College in Milwaukee, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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