Harvard Kennedy School Receives $7.5 Million Gift from the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation to Support Student Fellowship Program for U.S. Veterans and Active Duty Military Members

October 18, 2018
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CAMBRIDGE, MA – Harvard Kennedy School today announced the creation of a graduate student fellowship program for U.S. veterans and active duty military members. The fellowships, funded by a $7.5 million gift from the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, will help cover the costs of attendance and support comprehensive leadership development for up to 25 graduate students annually at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School.

“The men and women who serve in the U.S. military play a critical role in maintaining global security and stability. This fellowship program will further the training and development of our military and veteran students, increasing their capabilities as leaders,” said Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf. “Following their Harvard experience, these students often take the knowledge gained back into public service, making significant, positive contributions in a variety of roles. Several of our military and veteran alumni now serve in Congress as well as in other senior positions across the U.S. government and military.”

Elmendorf continued, “Both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School also have longstanding relationships with the military community, and I am delighted that they have collaborated with us on this important effort.”

The Black Family Foundation Fellowship represents the largest gift made to Harvard in recent history for the support of students who are current U.S. military or veterans. The fellowship program will be administered by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and is open to students matriculating in the fall of 2019.

“Through the generosity of the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, a growing number of active duty and veteran students will be able to attend Harvard, affording them the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of today’s policy and national security challenges,” said David Gergen, professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership. “This program will allow these students to further their commitment to public service and develop their skills as leaders. In turn, the Black Family Foundation gift will advance Harvard’s commitment to military members and veterans – and to the value of national service.”

Each year, as many as 250 veterans and active duty military members pursue degrees at Harvard University. At the Kennedy School, approximately 65 military students enroll in degree programs each year. Harvard Business School currently has 84 military students enrolled in the Classes of 2019 and 2020, and more than 40 U.S. military students are currently enrolled at Harvard Law School.

"In supporting this new fellowship, our goal is to promote ethical, values-based leadership and character that the fellows will model within the United States and the wider world,” said Leon Black, president of the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation. “Through the fellowship program, we can provide these talented emerging leaders with tools, focused preparation, and a vibrant network of peers and colleagues, establishing a strong and lasting foundation for future world- class public leadership.”

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