Cal U announces $4.2 million gift to launch the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education

Danny Beeck

CALIFORNIA, Pa., April 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — California University of Pennsylvania and Karen and Tom Rutledge announced a $4.2 million gift intended to make a lasting difference in the lives of children, Cal U students and the field of early childhood education.

The Rutledges, of Greenwich, Conn., joined California University of Pennsylvania officials to outline plans for the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education. Founded with the largest gift in the university’s history, the institute will support an innovative preschool on Cal U’s campus in affiliation with The Village, a nationally accredited childhood education center in California, Pa.

The institute will fund scholarships for 20 local children to attend the institute’s preschool. It also will pay tuition, fees and room costs for a select group of highly qualified undergraduates in California University’s childhood education program. While earning a B.S.Ed. degree and Pennsylvania teaching certification, these Rutledge Institute Scholars will:

Gain experience working alongside The Village’s expert teachers.
Implement an innovative curriculum based on children’s experiences in science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math (STREAM).
Engage in a structured peer-mentoring and leadership program.
Attend a five-week summer workshop on innovations in teaching.
“We want to make a real difference in the lives of children, as well as Cal U students,” says Karen Rutledge, “especially those who otherwise might not have these opportunities.”

The Rutledges spent time at the university in the 1970s, when they were raising their first child and Tom was studying economics. Today, Tom Rutledge is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR), the second-largest cable provider in the United States, with more than 95,000 employees and 26 million customers across 41 states.

This gift is the latest in a series of donations the Rutledges have made to the university, where they support scholarships for economics majors, for parenting students, and to help students pay living expenses during internships.

“The Rutledge Institute will be a model of excellence for preschool education,” Karen Rutledge says. “It’s important to give children a strong start, so they can become lifelong learners. They will be taught by excellent teachers — and everywhere they look, they will see grownups who are going to school and learning, just like they are.”

California University of Pennsylvania is poised to begin recruiting the first class of Rutledge Institute Scholars, and to open the institute’s preschool learning center in fall 2018.