Biotech entrepreneur and investor Jack Schuler plans to invest $500 million over the next ten years in an initiative aimed at increasing enrollment for undocumented and low-income students at the country's top liberal arts colleges, Forbes reports.
The son of a Swiss immigrant and a newcomer to Forbes' World's Billionaires list, thanks in large part to his investments in Quidel Corp., one of the earliest companies to receive FDA approval for a COVID-19 test, Schuler plans to commit nearly half his fortune to the Schuler Access Initiative, which will award funds to institutions of higher education that pledge to increase their enrollment of undocumented immigrants and students with financial need to 6 percent over ten years. Partnering with up to twenty liberal arts schools, including Carleton College, Schuler hopes to raise another $500 million in matching funds for the initiative. Given the low number of undocumented students at many universities, the program, if successful, could more than double their ranks, he told Forbes.
Following careers at Texas Instruments and Abbott Laboratories, Schuler invested in Stericycle and Ventana Medical Systems, the latter of which was acquired by Roche, and then served on the board of biotech company Icos, where he met Bill Gates in 2004. With Gates's encouragement, Schuler revamped his Chicago-based Schuler Education Foundation's Schuler Scholar Program — which he had founded in 2001 as a small-scale effort to provide financial aid for local college students — to include counseling, assistance with college applications, and international trip opportunities. To date, he has invested more than $100 million in the program and helped more than fifteen hundred students earn a four-year college degree.
"Their parents were unwilling to accept the status quo back home," Schuler said of undocumented students. "This next generation is going to be extremely successful, particularly if we let them eventually become citizens, because they're much more motivated."
(Photo credit: Schuler Scholars Program)