JFK University Serves Up Big Wins for Underserved Students and Bay Area Nonprofits

John F. Kennedy University played host to two successful, high-profile events this week that underscored the University’s push to enhance student support and to broaden its impact in local communities.

On Saturday, November 12, JFK University honored Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland’s first woman lieutenant governor and former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, with the Kennedy Laureate Award for her longstanding advocacy of education and community service.

The Kennedy Laureate Dinner, which was held at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, California, raised $200,000 in scholarship support and an additional $100,000 in matching support funds for the Undergraduate Success Center. The Center offers dedicated services and resources to support Hispanic/Latino students and other students and from underserved communities.

On Tuesday, November 15, JFK University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy partnered with the Tesoro Foundation to host philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford as a keynote speaker at a symposium titled, “Building Outrageously Successful Nonprofit Organizations.” The symposium, held at the Concord Hilton, hosted over 300 attendees from 200 Bay Area nonprofits.

Both events highlighted the critical roles of service and philanthropy in promoting education, advancing volunteerism, and strengthening our institutions.

“This year’s Kennedy Laureate Dinner was a huge over-the-top success with more people attending and more money raised than last year,” said Anne Marie Taylor, vice president of advancement for JFK University. “The Kennedy Laureate Dinner is really about the power of education to change lives. We open up the doors to passion by giving diverse students who are working full-time and raising families the chance to earn a college degree.”

Kennedy Townsend, the eldest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, serves on the board of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation as well as the board of the Points of Light Foundation, an organization dedicated to solving social issues through volunteer service. She is a research professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. During her time as lieutenant governor she led an effort to make Maryland the first state to enact community service as a high school graduation requirement.

Kennedy Townsend’s strong commitment to the causes of community service and the advancement of education reflect the mission of JFK University. One of the hallmarks of JFK University is its Service Learning program requiring students to dedicate at least 30 hours to community projects aligned with their academic specialty areas.

“We are so very honored to have Kathleen Kennedy Townsend join us for this special event and recognition as she embodies so clearly the dedication and community service that we value so highly among our own university community,” said JFK University President Debra Bean. “Her many contributions through her public service and her actions that demonstrate community before self are representative of the ideals we can all strive to emulate for the betterment of our communities and society at large.”

Also honored at the Kennedy Laureate Dinner were Eric Rudney, president of Danville-based Rudney Associates, and the Wente Foundation for Arts Education, a philanthropic arm of Wente Vineyards.

Rudney is deeply engaged in community leadership and is a committed philanthropist, supporting local nonprofits including Diablo Regional Arts, Las Trampas, Cancer Support Community, Oakland Children’s Hospital, the Wheelchair Foundation, Chabot Science Center, and Kerosene Lamp Foundation.

The Wente Foundation for Arts Education supports arts education programs in the Livermore Valley and throughout Northern California, making its philanthropic mark by creating innovative opportunities for young people. The foundation is funded by sales of a small-lot, limited edition wine called The Art of Giving.

JFK University is defined by its commitment to service and the belief that through service people can impact their communities and transform the world. The critical work done by Kennedy Townsend, Rudney, Sanford, and the Wente Foundation for Arts Education stand as living testaments to our University’s values.