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$75 million gift to UChicago’s school of social work ‘will make deep and sustained change’

The donation is the largest donation ever made to a social work program in the United States.

Hull Gate, the stone entrance that leads into the heart of the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park.
The school of social work at the Univerisity of Chicago will receive a $75 million donation.
Victor Hilitski/Sun-Times file

The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration will receive a $75 million donation, which the school says is the largest gift ever given to a school of social work.

The donation is so impressive that the university said it’s renaming the school as the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

The gift, from James and Paula Crown, will bolster financial aid, faculty research and hiring, the school announced Wednesday.

“This truly transformative gift will allow us to build on our research and expand our educational mission, leading to improved policies and interventions that will make deep and sustained change,” school dean Deborah Gorman-Smith said in a statement.

The donation will also allow the school to improve partnerships and programs with city and state agencies, including Chicago Public Schools.

One of those programs, the Network for College Success, used university research to reduce the high school dropout rate in CPS, the school said.

The disparities laid bare by the pandemic also show the need to strengthen similar programs, Gorman-Smith said.

“The public health crisis and pronounced social divisions in our country further underscore the urgency of the school’s mission,” she said.

The Crown family has donated more than $100 million to social work, education and access to the university, the university said.