The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation and Penn GSE Create New Partnership to Advance Excellence in Education

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Penn President Amy Gutmann, Suzanne McGraw, Harold McGraw III, and Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman

Nominations are now open for the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education to recognize outstanding achievement in pre-K-12 education, higher education, and learning science research.

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PHILADELPHIA — The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education announced today they have established a new three-year, $3 million partnership to enhance and expand the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, one of the most prestigious honors in the field.

Since 1988, the McGraw Prize has celebrated innovation in education by recognizing outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a huge impact. There is a public nomination process and winners are selected by an independent panel of judges, who are leaders in the field. Recent winners include Reshma​​Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools; and Sal Kahn, the founder of Khan Academy.

“Innovation has been central to the University of Pennsylvania’s mission since its founding more than two centuries ago and is today one of the primary tenets of the Penn Compact 2020,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Our new partnership with the McGraw Prize, which honors the remarkable work of some of the most innovative minds in education, is a natural fit for Penn GSE, which is committed to both practical knowledge building and high-quality research to advance education. Together we will create programming that will share the innovative work of McGraw Prize winners for the benefit of educators around the globe. We are honored to be partnering with the McGraw Family Foundation to advance knowledge for good.”

“For 30 years, the McGraw Prize has celebrated outstanding individuals who brought meaningful and lasting change to education. Our new partnership with Penn GSE, one of the leading educational institutions in the world, will expand the programming and impact of the Prize to a broader audience and shine a spotlight on educational leaders and innovators,” said Harold McGraw III, former Chairman, President, and CEO of the McGraw-Hill Companies. “This is a major step forward in the evolution of the Prize and a fitting way to honor the legacy of my father, who dedicated his life to education and literacy.”

Three McGraw Prizes—recognizing achievement in pre-K-12 education, higher education, and learning science research—will be awarded October 21 in New York. Each winner will receive a $50,000 gift. Nominations are now open at and will be accepted through April 15.

As part of the new partnership, Catalyst @ Penn GSE will create a yearlong programming series to share ideas and insights from McGraw Prize winners with educators around the globe. The series kicks off with a February 20 webinar featuring 2017 winner Christine Cunningham, a Penn State Professor of Practice in Education and Engineering and founder of Engineering is Elementary.

“From STEM education, to teacher preparation, to online learning, the McGraw Prize winners are shaping the future of education,” said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. “Penn GSE researchers and students work in many of these same areas to create innovative solutions for learners of all ages. We are excited about the opportunity to expand our impact through this collaboration with the McGraw Prize.”

To celebrate the new partnership, Grossman today is hosting four McGraw Prize winners — Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education; Carvalho; Cunningham; and Chris Lehmann, the founding Principal of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy — at Penn’s Perry World House for a panel discussion about sustaining innovation in education. 

 The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, established by Harold W. McGraw, Jr., is a not-for-profit private foundation whose primary mission is focused on education, youth services, community health and medical research.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools and is currently ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. Catalyst @ Penn GSE is a center for global education innovation that connects people and ideas to develop new ways to advance education in novel and meaningful directions.

The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, is an Ivy League institution with a distinctive past. Its 12 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools are located in Philadelphia on an attractive urban campus that serves a diverse community of more than 20,000 students from throughout the nation and around the world. Ranked consistently among the top universities in the nation, Penn has a longstanding reputation for excellence in graduate and professional education.

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