Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford Donates $28 Million to the National University System in Support of Sanford Education Programs

South Dakotan and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford, one of the country’s most generous philanthropists, is donating $28 million to the private, nonprofit National University System to further its role leading the national adoption of three initiatives: Sanford Harmony, Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Based on the vision of Mr. Sanford, the three Sanford Education Programs provide innovative, research-based solutions designed to address critical needs in teacher education, PreK-12 instruction and nonprofit fundraising. The donation, which is the largest ever received by the National University System, ensures the continued expansion of all three programs, which give people the tools to develop better relationships.

More than 500,000 PreK-12 students from Los Angeles to New York City are being reached through a phased roll-out of two of the initiatives: Sanford Harmony, a PreK-6 social emotional learning program that promotes positive peer interactions and communication among boys and girls; and Sanford Inspire, which supports inspiring PreK-12 teaching through teacher education. The Sanford Harmony program, based on eight years of research at Arizona State University’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, has also been adopted in some of the largest school districts in the country.

“We are very appreciative to have received this historic gift, which affirms the remarkable impact of these initiatives and allows for us to expand even further the capacity of these programs to transform the lives of our children, schools and communities.” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System, a network of nonprofit education institutions including National University that collectively serve higher education and K-12 students. “We are honored to carry out the vision of Denny Sanford, who is the inspiration and driving force behind these programs, and we are dedicated to ensuring their impact will last for generations.”

The donation from Mr. Sanford brings total funding to date for the programs to approximately $70 million, which comes through a combination of donations from Mr. Sanford, Dr. Cunningham, anonymous donors and matching funds from National University itself.

The National University System is leading the nationwide expansion of the programs through collaborations with more than a dozen other universities and numerous school districts around the country. The funding allows for Sanford Harmony to be available to PreK-12 schools at no cost.

Helping others is what this is all about, and it’s why I’m so pleased to recognize the remarkable impacts these three programs are having nationwide,” said Mr. Sanford. “What started out as a dream is now a reality, and to me the greatest gift of all is being able to see for myself how these programs are strengthening our communities and helping children succeed in school and life.”

With adoption in more than three dozen states, the PreK-6 Sanford Harmony social emotional learning program continues to expand significantly. Based on Mr. Sanford’s desire to improve relationships among children into adulthood, Sanford Harmony supports positive peer interactions through lessons and activities that encourage communication, collaboration, and mutual respect among boys and girls. The program is being adopted by public and private schools, Boys and Girls Clubs and Magnet Schools of America. It is also being introduced to three of the five largest school districts in the country: New York City, where in partnership with Long Island University the program is in the process of reaching more than 100,000 students; as well as in Los Angeles and Clark County, Nevada.

“I am confident that the Sanford Harmony program will lead to stronger and healthier relationships among children while fostering positive, lifelong relationships and ultimately lowering divorce rates,” said Mr. Sanford.

With new resources being developed monthly, the Sanford Inspire program now offers 60 video training modules developed in collaboration with Arizona State University. The PreK-12 initiative is based on Mr. Sanford’s vision to support inspiring teaching, and was developed in conjunction with Teach for America. Sanford Inspire provides access to research-based teaching methodologies, and on-demand, self-guided online modules and offers a tool box to help teachers create inspiring classroom environments. A movement as well as a resource, Sanford Inspire principles and resources are being integrated as part of teacher education programs by a growing number of colleges and universities and impacting to date about 14,000 pre-service and in-service teachers.

National University’s Sanford College of Education, which is among the top ten largest schools of education in the country, has aligned Sanford Inspire principles with its curriculum and programs. More than a dozen other schools and colleges of education are currently adopting Sanford Inspire, including City University of Seattle, which is also part of the National University System, and Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

National University performed the research and development of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University, which has directly impacted more than 12,000 frontline nonprofit fundraisers. The University is also supporting the expansion of a national network of affiliated Institutes at universities around the country, including John F. Kennedy University, and City University of Seattle, both affiliates of the National University System; Bellevue University; Augustana University; and Long Island University in New York. The founding Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University has created foundational curriculum based on the vision of Mr. Sanford to increase the impact of nonprofits through a unique focus on frontline fundraising and donor relations. A common cornerstone among each Institute is the Cause Selling approach, which blends the passion of philanthropy with an emphasis on proven business principles. With the development of more than 30 instructional modules and a one-of-its-kind textbook – Cause Selling: The Sanford Way – the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University meets the standards of excellence as outlined by Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) International and has been approved by the nonprofit certification organization as a Continuing Education Provider.

About the National University System
The National University System is a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions serving higher education and K-12 students that includes National University, John F. Kennedy University, City University of Seattle, WestMed College and the Division of Pre-College Programs. Established in 2001 to meet the emerging challenges and demands of education in the 21st Century, the network’s complementary universities offer pathways for students to attain professional and terminal degrees through quality and innovative programs delivered in a format that is flexible to the needs of adult learners. The anchor institution, National University, was founded in in 1971 and is among the largest private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in California with more than 150,000 alumni. For more information on the National University System:

About the Sanford Education Center and Sanford College of Education at National University
The Sanford Education Center at National University was established in 2014 through the generous support of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to provide innovative programs in the nonprofit and PreK-12 sectors. The Center, in coordination with universities around the country, is leading the national expansion of three initiatives: Sanford Harmony, Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. The Center’s initiatives are supported by National University, which is home to the Sanford College of Education, and the National University System. Learn more: