Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions Receives $500,000 Challenge Grant from The Kresge Foundation

The grant will support the expansion of Center operations and programs that elevate Minority Serving Institutions, as well as scholars interested in research related to these vital institutions.

Philadelphia, Jan. 11, 2015 – The Kresge Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to support the work of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). The grant will fund Center operations and programs during a four-year period and further its goals to increase rigorous scholarship related to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); inform and shape practice at MSIs; and advance effective policies that have a positive impact on MSIs, their students, staff and faculty. 

“We are delighted to support the Penn Center for MSIs with several years of general operating support,” said Caroline Altman Smith, Senior Program Officer at The Kresge Foundation. “MSIs are playing a critical role in helping our nation meet its college-attainment goals, and they serve a disproportionate number of the students the Foundation is most committed to serving:  low-income students, first-generation students and students of color.  The Center is well-positioned to contribute research and thought leadership and convening power to strengthen the MSI field, and we are proud to be able to provide it with core support.” 

Structured as a challenge grant, The Kresge Foundation hopes to galvanize additional foundation and individual donor support for core Center operations, activities, and programs.  During the course of the four-year grant period, Marybeth Gasman, Director of CMSI, and her team will pursue matching funds to complete the grant challenge and build upon the Center’s existing work, including research related to student success, teacher education and STEM, as well as forthcoming programs related to strengthening MSIs. 

“We are honored to be supported by The Kresge Foundation,” said Gasman.  “This funding will allow us to substantially increase our capacity to serve MSIs and expand programs supporting scholars interested in researching MSIs.  We look forward to building our programs on MSI leadership, MSI fundraising, and providing research and programmatic support to those working at MSIs.”

Minority Serving Institutions enroll more than 3.2 million undergraduate students per year—20 percent of all undergraduate students enrolled in higher education—and no less significant, a disproportionate percentage of students of color. Because MSIs enroll a substantial share of minority students, many of whom might not otherwise attend college, the success of these institutions is critical for realizing our nation’s higher education and workforce goals, and for the benefit of American society.


About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation headquartered in Metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy, that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development and our place-based efforts in Detroit. For more than 85 years, The Kresge Foundation has helped build the nation’s nonprofit infrastructure—libraries, hospitals, schools, museums, community centers and other facilities. Historically, the challenge grant was used to help nonprofit organizations advance their capital campaigns and meet their fundraising goals for new facility construction or renovation. Today, The Kresge Foundation engages in strategic philanthropy using an array of grantmaking and investing tools. Read more here

About The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities.

About Penn GSE

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals, unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit