The University of Chicago has announced a $50 million gift from writer and alumnus Harriet Heyman (AM '72) and her husband, investor Sir Michael Moritz, to bolster a program that provides support to outstanding low-income Chicago public school students.
The five-year challenge gift is part of a $350 million investment by the university in its Odyssey Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to undergraduate students with the greatest economic need, eliminating the need for loans and academic-year work requirements, as well as additional support for study abroad, academic enrichment, and career development through paid internships. The gift, which requires the university to raise an additional $50 million, also will make it possible to boost the number of students admitted to the program by nearly 40 percent.
Inspired by the success of the university's Collegiate Scholars program, in which students in grades 10-12 attend summer classes at the university and participate in enrichment activities geared toward college readiness, leadership, and civic engagement, Odyssey Scholars will receive advice and mentoring while still in high school in areas such as academics and the college experience through the university's new Center for College Student Success.
Heyman, who grew up on Chicago's South Side and attended Chicago public schools, worked at the New York Times and Life magazine and has written for a variety of publications. She is the author of a novel, Between Two Rains, as well as Private Acts: The Acrobat Sublime, which explores the art and artistry of acrobats through essays and photographs, and holds a master's degree from the university’s Division of the Humanities. Moritz, who joined Sequoia Capital and has been its chair since 2012, was a journalist with TIME and wrote the first book about the origins of Apple, Inc., The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer.
"Cultivating students' potential for exceptional achievement regardless of their economic circumstances has always been a central commitment of the University of Chicago," said UChicago president Robert J. Zimmer. "Harriet and Michael's transformative generosity reaffirms that principle and allows us to pursue an ambitious model of support for students of diverse backgrounds. We are deeply grateful for their action on this vital issue."