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Enhancing Educational Opportunities for Foster Care Youth

$1 million gift from Barbara & Frank Sullivan creates The Pratt Center at CSU

Cleveland State University has earned national recognition for its efforts to improve educational opportunity for foster care youth, which remains one of the least likely populations nationally to attend college. Those efforts have received a significant boost thanks to a new $1 million gift by local philanthropists Barbara and Frank Sullivan. The funds will be used to create The Pratt Center – Fostering Success and Leadership, which will provide greatly expanded academic support services and personal and professional development activities for the over 70 current CSU students who have exited foster care. The center will be designed to provide a comprehensive support structure which will assist in improving academic outcomes, success rates, and degree completion for this population.

The center builds on the highly successful Sullivan/Deckard Scholars Opportunity program which provides scholarships for tuition and year-round living expenses to 10 foster care students annually. It guides scholars through the college application process, helps them transition to CSU, and provides comprehensive mentoring and support services during their college tenure. The program was created thanks to an initial $2.3 million gift from Barbara and Frank Sullivan and Jenniffer and Daryl Deckard, and received a 2016 Models of Excellence Award from University Business Magazine.

“Foster children are one of the more at-risk populations in society and this gift by the Sullivans will greatly expand our ability to reach and support these individuals,” notes Ronald M. Berkman, President of Cleveland State. “The Pratt Center will create a holistic support system that gives this population the tools necessary to succeed.”

“We have been honored to partner with the Deckard Family and CSU to assist foster care youth in building a better future for themselves,” says Barbara Sullivan. “This additional gift will allow CSU to increase the impact of its efforts and assist more students in building a pathway to success.”

Barbara Sullivan serves on the board of directors for Fill This House, an organization that provides household goods to newly emancipated young adults. Frank Sullivan is chairman and chief executive officer of RPM International, Inc., a Medina-based holdings company for manufacturers of industrial and consumer building materials.

The center is being named in honor of Charleyse S. Pratt, CSU’s longtime assistant vice president for inclusion and multicultural engagement and director of the Sullivan/Deckard Scholars Opportunity program.

“Charley Pratt has been an outstanding asset to Cleveland State and a true catalyst in transforming the Sullivan/Deckard program from an idea into a valuable community resource and national model,” adds President Berkman. “I am very pleased that we are able to honor her many accomplishments and dedication to CSU and the Cleveland community through the naming of this center.”