UC Berkeley announced this week that it has accepted a $24 million donation from the former chairman of Levi Strauss & Co. that will be earmarked to cover tuition costs for students from low-income families. A press release published on Monday claims that the gift will help increase the number of students from groups that have been “historically marginalized” by universities and colleges.
According to a press release, UC Berkeley has recently accepted a $24 million donation that will cover tuition costs for first-generation and low-income students. The university celebrated the donation by announcing that the funds will increase diversity in the student body.
The donation was made by the Haas family. Bob Haas, a UC Berkeley graduate, is the great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss, the first manufacturer of blue jeans. Haas served as chairman of Levi Strauss & Co. between 1989 and 2014.
Colleen Haas, who has focused her philanthropic efforts on social justice issues, said that she hopes the donation helps students from groups that have been “historically marginalized” by universities and colleges.
The press release highlights research conducted by recent UC Berkeley graduate Michael Cerda-Jara, a participant in the Haas Scholars Program. Cerda-Jara conducted research on the role that higher education can play in helping former criminals rejoin the labor market.
Cruz Grimaldo, director of Berkeley’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, claimed that the donation will help the university enroll exceptional first-generation students.
“These scholarships, fully matched at $20 million, will allow the university to welcome exceptional new first-generation students who might have otherwise not been able to attend Berkeley,” Grimaldo said. “These students are exceptional, and through this scholarship, we are able to tell them that they are what Berkeley wants.”
Bob Haas said in a statement that philanthropic giving has long been at the core of his family’s purpose. “My father, Walter A. Haas Jr., was president of Levi Strauss, and he would come home, but he never talked about business,” Haas said. “He was most proud of talking about the things that he was doing in the community.”
“The students in these programs inspire us as a result of their overcoming what their environment handed them,” Haas added. “And to achieve this, to make it into Berkeley, or to be the first in their families to go to college, is not only inspiring, it’s nothing short of amazing.”
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