Culture / Newsy

$1 Million Given to UH to Fight Vaccine Hesitancy, Pandemic Learning Loss — A Secret Donor Steps Up

An Anonymous Giving Trend That's Worth Celebrating

BY // 08.23.21

Sometimes the best work is done quietly. An anonymous donor is gifting the University of Houston $1 million to fight vaccine hesitancy and pandemic learning loss for those most affected by the health crisis that has rocked the world for the last 18 months.

The $1 million goes to the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, a multidisciplinary research center led by the University of Houston. The research center plans to use the money to expand a reading intervention and health literacy research project at six middle schools in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

For the University of Houston, it’s just the latest high-profile anonymous donation. Most memorably, UH received a $50 million gift from a secret CEO donor in 2019 that challenged the university to do more. Another anonymous donor gave $4 million to the college’s acclaimed creative writing program, the one which memorably drew the attention of James Franco. (Though the actor with a since troubled history of sexual misconduct allegations never actually attended UH after being accepted into the program.)

Another secret donor gave $3 million to pay the entire tuition fees for every student in the University of Houston’s first ever medical school class.

Any giving should be celebrated, but there is something extra sweet about a large donation that’s given with no regard for personal publicity.

This latest one will now recruit about 800 students (the gift essentially allows for doubling the program in size) for the reading improvement and vaccine education project. The students get one year of reading intervention and tools that they can use to educate their parents on the available COVID vaccines.

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Researchers will also use brain imaging and genetic and cognitive testing in an effort to better understand why some kids improve their reading skills with help and others do not. The end goal is to use the research to create more effective reading intervention programs.

That’s something to champion — and one donor put their money behind it.

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