Grand Rapids business and community leaders Mike and Sue Jandernoa are intensifying their efforts to improve the mathematics proficiency of Michigan schoolchildren through a partnership with the University of Michigan.
Their $4.3 million gift will benefit the School of Education's TeachingWorks organization, establish a need-based scholarship at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and expand fellowships at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, continuing the Jandernoas' investment in the university and the state. Mike Jandernoa is a 1972 U-M graduate.
The bulk of the gift — $3 million — will be used to expand a TeachingWorks partnership in Grand Rapids focused on preparing and coaching teachers, particularly in mathematics education.
TeachingWorks is a national organization based at the School of Education and is dedicated to raising the quality of entry-level teaching and the learning of students in beginning teachers' classrooms.
With this gift, the Jandernoas wish to better prepare Michigan teachers and enhance students' mathematical capabilities, ultimately improving the number and quality of jobs.
In the course of their professional and charitable lives, they recognized troubling deficiencies in mathematics readiness among children in West Michigan. Michigan Department of Education test summaries reveal math proficiency levels barely above 40 percent for third-grade students in Kent County, where Grand Rapids is located, and below 40 percent for eighth-graders.
"Just at the time when the current workforce needs better math skills, our high school graduates have significantly less math understanding and proficiency. We must help these students in math now so they can have successful jobs in the future," said Mike Jandernoa.
TeachingWorks is especially focused on advancing equity and social justice by opening opportunities for marginalized students to experience equitable instruction, build positive learning identities, and find academic success.
For this project, TeachingWorks is collaborating with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Kent Intermediate School District and Grand Valley State University to jointly design a program of training, development and support to improve mathematics teaching in grades three through eight.
Following the first year of the planned five-year project, collaborators will expand partnerships to meet the needs that are determined in the initial stages of the work.
"The Jandernoas' continued and unparalleled support — and their insightful and wise engagement with and guidance of our partnership — will enable TeachingWorks to transform the quality of elementary mathematics teaching in Grand Rapids," said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, TeachingWorks director and William H. Payne Collegiate Professor of Education.
"With this investment, we will advance our efforts to work collaboratively with educators in West Michigan to build and sustain a pipeline of quality teachers in West Michigan."
School of Education Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje is eager to continue developing partnerships on the west side of the state.
"The Jandernoas' leadership is remarkable because their gift is accompanied by a generous personal commitment to build the partnerships that will benefit children in this state. The relationships we build with schools, nonprofits, agencies, and peer institutions are at the core of our work, and we will continue to invest in these partnerships," Moje said.
Another portion of the gift — $1 million — will establish the Mike and Sue Jandernoa Scholarship Fund in the Ross School, where Mike received his bachelor of business administration. The scholarship will provide need-based support to undergraduate students.
"The Ross School aspires to develop business leaders who will challenge the present and enrich the future for the benefit of all. This very generous commitment from the Jandernoas helps to ensure that the most talented students — regardless of financial means — are able to achieve this aspiration," said Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean and Stephen M. Ross Professor of Business at the Ross School.
The Jandernoas also contributed to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellowship Fund at the Ford School. Ford was a fellow Grand Rapidian and U-M alumnus who dedicated his life to public service. U-M's public policy school was named in his honor in 1999, and the fellowship fund supports graduate students who exemplify the late president's commitment to civility, bipartisan cooperation and public service.
"We launched the Presidential Fellowship during the 100th anniversary of the public policy program to reinvigorate our commitment to the public good," said Michael S. Barr, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy at the Ford School. "The significant and generous gift from Mike and Sue Jandernoa will support aspiring public servants who will serve the school, state, and nation President Ford loved."
This gift brings the Jandernoas' total giving to the Victors for Michigan campaign to $5.4 million, including previous gifts to TeachingWorks, scholarships, and the Ross School.
Sue Jandernoa is driven by a passion for education and 30 years of teaching experience. Mike Jandernoa is the former board chairman and CEO of Perrigo Co., as well as a mentor to Michigan entrepreneurs and an emeritus member of the Business Leaders for Michigan. Their combined service has touched dozens of nonprofits, including TeachingWorks.
In addition to their recent gift, the Jandernoas have been exemplary donors and volunteers at U-M, giving more than $10.4 million in support of athletics, financial aid, the Medical School and more.
Beyond philanthropic support, they have lent their time and expertise as chairs of the Victors for Michigan Campaign Steering Committee, the West Michigan Campaign Leadership Council, and numerous advisory groups across campus, including Sue Jandernoa's 10 years on the School of Education Dean's Advisory Council.
In 2007, Mike Jandernoa received the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership — U-M's highest honor bestowed upon donors and volunteers.