$5M gift from Joan and Sanford Weill and Weill Family Foundation supports graduate student fellowships

December 14, 2021

A new $5 million gift from Joan and Sanford “Sandy” I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan will provide endowed support for three graduate fellowships in perpetuity. The gift brings to six the number of fellows at the Ford School funded by the Weills.

The Weill Scholars are part of the Ford School’s partnership with the Rackham Graduate School to support Rackham Master’s Awards, which are given to graduate students underrepresented in the public policy field, with outstanding qualifications and tremendous promise for future contributions. Ford-Rackham Master's Awards are one of the Ford School's and the University of Michigan's highest honors. With it, students receive two years of full tuition, a stipend, and health and dental care.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Joan and Sandy’s continued support of the Ford School and our students,” said Michael S. Barr, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy. “Their gifts make a tremendous impact on expanding opportunities for students who are committed to reducing social, educational, and economic disparities in public policy.”

Headshots of Paolo Mutia, Anna Nguyen, Sharon Ceron Espinosa, Maximilian (Max) Hill, Fanta Condé, and Heather Berg
Top row (L-R): Paolo Mutia, Anna Nguyen, Sharon Ceron Espinosa; Bottom row (L-R): Maximilian (Max) Hill, Fanta Condé, and Heather Berg

Current Weill Scholars are interested in environmental policy, health policy, housing, and public education. They include: Maximilian (Max) Hill (MPP '22), Fanta Condé (MPP '22), Anna D. Nguyen (MPP/SI ‘24), and Paolo Mutia (MPP/SI ‘23). The Weills also fund an additional Ford School-Rackham Master’s Award that includes a fellowship with the Ford School’s Youth Policy Lab.  The inaugural 2020 Weill Fellow was Heather Berg (MPP/MBA '23), followed by 2021 fellow Sharon Ceron Espinosa (MPP ’23).

“We have been very impressed with our Ford School student fellows,” the Weills said in a joint statement. “We applaud their hard work and their dedication to public service, and we are thrilled to expand these opportunities to even more talented Ford School students.  They give us great hope for the future.” 

Previously, the Weills, who enjoyed a long friendship with President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford, gave generously to help build the Ford School’s home in Weill Hall and provide funds for the dean to advance strategic priorities. They also established the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Youth Empowerment Fund at the Ford School, which expands education and employment opportunities for Detroit area youth.

About Joan and Sanford Weill

The Weills were among the original signatories to the 2010 Giving Pledge, the international movement founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, comprising more than 200 philanthropists who have committed the greater part of their wealth to charity. On the Giving Pledge website, the Weills say, “Education and partnership are at the heart of everything we do philanthropically.”  The Weills are also recipients of the 2009 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Award and the 2017 Kennedy Center Award for the Human Spirit.

Over the past five decades, the Weills and the Weill Family Foundation have given more than $1 billion to educational, medical, cultural, and arts institutions. A recent gift established the Weill Neurohub, which brings together world-class researchers and clinicians at UCSF, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington to speed the development of new treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases.

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