The University of Arizona

Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation Donates $2M to Arizona Assurance Program

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, March 8, 2010

Sarah Smallhouse, president of the foundation, hopes the gift will inspire others to support higher education and contribute to the needs-based UA endowment program.

Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
Smallhouse and Shelton surrounded by students and representatives from the Arizona Assurance Program. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography), , Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas Brown Foundation and Robert N. Shelton, UA president, during the ceremony announcing the foundation's $2 million donation. (Credit: David Sanders, DS Photography)
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The Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation has committed $2 million to the Arizona Assurance Scholarship Endowment at the University of Arizona. 

The public-private funded financial aid program provides four-year scholarships to qualifying in-state students. The need-based scholarship is a primary way the UA is addressing accessibility to higher education amid economic factors contributing to rising tuition costs. 

"We are honored that the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation shares our desire of ensuring a college education remains an obtainable goal for Arizona residents," UA President Robert N. Shelton said. "This new endowment gift, which matches the commitment from Helios Education Foundation, is a ringing endorsement to the community that Arizona Assurance is worthy of widespread support."

The donation to the Arizona Assurance program was celebrated today during an event held in the lobby of the Office of Financial Aid at the UA Administration Building.

Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation believes access to higher education is a cornerstone to economic and community development.

"My father built his company, Burr-Brown Corporation, from humble beginnings in his garage to one of the largest semiconductor firms in the United States, with two-thirds of its product sales overseas," Smallhouse said.

"The profits stayed in Tucson, and the company helped keep local suppliers in business, Arizonans employed, and Arizona tax revenue up," Smallhouse said. "The steady stream of talented, innovative and well-educated graduates of the University of Arizona is a big reason the company was so successful.

"These challenging economic times are exactly when we must invest in our young people to create a hopeful future for them. Higher education is essential for success in the 21st century global economy," she said. "Being from a financially advantaged background should not be a prerequisite for a college degree in Arizona. We hope our gift inspires others to support Arizona Assurance as well." 

Private gifts to Arizona Assurance are combined with other sources, such as federal Pell Grants, work-study programs and University grants, to complete the scholarship package. The program covers college costs - including tuition, books, and room and board - for in-state students from families with an adjusted gross income of up to $42,400 per year.

Launched in 2008, Arizona Assurance has demonstrated positive trends. The about 1,500 students in their first and second years in the Arizona Assurance Scholars program are outpacing their classmates academically and in persistence rate. 

To help ensure a successful transition to college, Arizona Assurance provides a retention program that includes pairing faculty members with scholars. Faculty mentors meet with their students throughout the semester and are encouraged to invite students to contact them with concerns.

The success component of the program also includes workshops on money management, learning strategies, and the benefits of internships. Arizona Assurance scholars have access to a staff person to answer questions by phone or e-mail. 

About $9 million in private gifts, including the leadership gift of $2 million from Helios Education Foundation, have been raised for the program. The long-term goal is building a $100 million endowment that will support the program in perpetuity.

"The Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation has been an incredibly generous and important partner to the UA," said James H. Moore, Jr, president of the UA Foundation. "Its leadership has strategically invested resources to spur innovation, support students and faculty, and increase UA's prominence globally.

Arizona Assurance is the most comprehensive and inclusive scholarship program of its kind in the state, and shows promise as a national model for funding higher education in the United States, Moore added.

About Thomas R. Brown Foundations

The Thomas R. Brown Foundations advance strategic educational programs and community initiatives that improve the capacity of individuals to be independent, effective and prosperous. Special focus lies in the advancement of engineering, science and the application of economic principles in private and public decision making. The foundations have supported training programs for K-12 teachers, university and community college faculty, scholarships and fellowships, expert analysis and research on public policy issues, and strategic initiatives such as the Critical Path Institute, Science Foundation Arizona and the Southern Arizona Regional Town Hall.  Learn more at brownfoundations.org. 

The University of Arizona Foundation

The University of Arizona Foundation is one of the largest foundations in Arizona, raising more than $100 million annually. Managing an asset base of nearly $500 million, the UA Foundation has helped generate more than $2 billion in private funding to support the University of Arizona.  Learn more at uafoundation.org.