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Connecticut Receives $100 Million Donation to Serve Disengaged Youth

Surrounded by hundreds of East Hartford High School students, Governor Lamont today announced that Dalio Philanthropies has committed $100 million to strengthening public education and promoting greater economic opportunity in Connecticut that will, over five years, be matched by $100 million from the state and $100 million from other philanthropists and business leaders.

Governor Lamont addressed the hundreds of high school students and many visitors assembled at East Hartford High School this morning to hear his announcement.

“If you believe in the future of Connecticut, you invest in the future of Connecticut, and we invest in each and every one of you,” Governor Lamont told the high school students. “You’ve got an amazing building, you’ve got a great principal, you’ve got some of the greatest teachers in the world right here at East Hartford High. Let’s give a hand for the teachers. They work their hearts out every day.”

“I’ve been lucky in my life to be able to live the American Dream,” said Ray Dalio, who came from a middle-class background to found of one of the world’s largest hedge funds. “And what it means most fundamentally is equal opportunity, and most fundamentally equal opportunity in education. When you think, what is the best investment you can make, it has to be in the children’s education and the teachers.”

The partnership between the state and Dalio Philanthropies aims to benefit residents of Connecticut’s under-resourced communities, with a specific focus on communities where there is both a high poverty rate and a high concentration of youth (14-24) who are showing signs of disengagement or disconnection from high school. It will work with local stakeholders to ensure that community voice and input shape programming design and help advance positive outcomes as quickly and sustainably as possible.

“We don’t have any answers, but I know that if we come together we’ll find the answers,” said Barbara Dalio. “Teachers and school leaders know what the answers are, so we’ll all get together.”

Governor Lamont is proposing that the state contribute its first $20 million to the partnership from the projected surplus this year. Contributions for the remainder of the five-year commitment will be discussed with the legislature.

The Dalio Philanthropies’ donation is the largest known philanthropic donation to benefit the state in Connecticut’s history.

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams and President Jeff Leake told Governor Lamont and Barbara Dalio that they look forward to teachers’ input being integral to the partnership. 

Over the last four years, the Dalios have contributed $50 million to Connecticut’s public school districts, nonprofit organizations, and communities. While the Dalios have supported charter schools in the past, Barbara Dalio told the Connecticut Post earlier this year that, a few years ago, the foundation shifted the focus of its education philanthropy to neighborhood public schools.

Barbara Dalio had spent time in Norwalk public school classrooms and saw firsthand the lack of resources, counselors, and social workers for the students there. She reasoned that charter schools enroll students whose parents are most involved with their education and know how to sign up for the lottery process, leaving those with less knowledgeable or engaged families in the traditional public schools. Dalio said that she understands that charters don’t solve the problems facing public education.

To strengthen public education, the partnership will engage non-profit organizations, high schools, higher education, and employers to connect young people to upwardly-mobile jobs. Public education and workforce development programs will include an integrated focus on youth development and wraparound programming.

“The most important investment I can make as a governor is an investment in education to make sure the next generation of folks are just ready to go and can hit the ground running,” said Lamont.

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