Irvine Company announces $20-million gift to Irvine Unified School District for fine arts, music and science programs

The 10-year grant allows for continuation of esteemed program that provides art, music and science specialists for every 4th through 6th grade class in IUSD.

IRVINE, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2016) — Irvine Company announced today a $20-million gift to the Irvine Unified School District that will allow for the continuation of an esteemed enrichment program that provides art, music and science teachers to every fourth through sixth grade class in the district.

The 10-year grant funds another decade of the popular Excellence in Education Enrichment Program that began in 2006 with a similar 10-year, $20 million commitment from Irvine Company. The initial gift nearly tripled the amount of funding allocated toward enrichment programs in the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

The renewal ensures that Irvine public schools will continue to offer the finest, most comprehensive and professionally driven enrichment curriculum for fourth through sixth graders of any district in the state. The grant helps to fund more than 30 teachers at 24 elementary schools for the next decade.

“Irvine Company is pleased to continue its long-term commitment to Irvine Unified School District and the holistic education of its students,” said Robin Leftwich, Irvine Company’s vice president of community affairs. “Enrichment is an integral part of exemplary student achievement and high standardized test scores, elevating Irvine Unified above every other district in the state.”

Since the program’s inception in 2006, IUSD high school students have significantly outperformed their peers in California and the nation in science and visual and performing arts.

“This gift from Irvine Company allows us to continue an enrichment program that distinguishes Irvine schools nationally,” Superintendent Terry Walker said. “This is vital, especially during the shift to Common Core and new science standards requiring substantially more hands-on instruction.”

Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren and the Donald Bren Foundation have a long history of passionate support for education in Irvine. More than $220 million has been invested to support students, teachers, principals, schools, school districts, universities and university scholars on The Irvine Ranch. Irvine is recognized for having the most successful school district in California due in large part to Irvine Company’s philanthropy, public policy initiatives and master-planning.

“It’s All Yours,” Bren Tells O.C.

Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren signed over 20,000 acres of rugged, dramatic landscape to OC Parks on Tuesday amid windblown grasses and hulking oaks.

“That was painless,” he said after signing a ceremonial deed created for the occasion, while Orange County supervisors, Irvine city officials, park rangers, naturalists and open-space advocates looked on.

Then, before turning away from both the microphone and his role as landowner for some of the county’s most untrammeled wild spaces, Bren, 78, shook the hand of OC Parks director Mark Denny.

“It’s all yours,” he said.

“Yours,” in this case, means all of Orange County. The four major canyons that make up the gift include Black Star, expected to become the 2,000-acre “Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park” within three to four years.

It is the largest gift of land in county history.

Orange County supervisors accepted the 20,000 acres in June, though Bren’s proposal had been announced the year before – and anticipated for 20 years. It increased OC Parks’ landholdings by 50 percent in a single stroke, and caps Irvine Co. land donations over the past century that amount to more than half of the historic Irvine Ranch that stretched across the county’s midsection.

Public access to what was once the domain of cattle and cowboys will gradually increase in coming years.

Hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders already have free access once a month to the Limestone Canyon section, spanning more than 5,000 acres adjacent to Whiting Ranch and home to “The Sinks” – a “breathtaking geological formation” that is “one of the wonders of Orange County, and should be seen by all,” Orange County supervisor Bill Campbell told the group.

And there are other programs and outings on the property led by docents.

Bren’s gift also includes Fremont Canyon, full of poppies in spring, Weir Canyon, full of oak woodlands and mule deer, and Loma Ridge, from which the ocean and downtown Los Angeles were visible Tuesday, with skies blown clear by wind.

Mountain lions frequent the property, raptors hunt rodents in the scrub, owls hoot at night.

“It’s almost like having an entire national park, as a centerpiece, located right here in the middle of Orange County,” Bren told the group. “What’s more, it’s the largest urban open space in the United States. In fact, more than 30 million people live less than 30 minutes from this pristine natural treasure.”

Much of the land is protected under Orange County’s Natural Communities Conservation Plan, an umbrella of land management meant to preserve suitable habitat for a variety of native species.

So OC Parks must balance public access with habitat protection – perhaps keeping some sections closed even as more of the land is opened to the public in the years to come.

For the next three years, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, created by the Irvine Co. to manage wild lands, will continue conducting research, education and restoration on the property.

Environmental groups, including some that questioned the land transfer and the county’s ability to manage and fund it, studied the proposal carefully before lending their support.

Pat Brennan
Orange County Register

Donald Bren Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Donald Bren Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

TIC Chairman Donald Bren has been elected a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences — a major recognition of his long history of philanthropic contributions to education and open space preservation and access.

Fellows are elected from throughout the world through a highly competitive process, and are chosen for their significant and lasting contributions to their disciplines and society. Mr. Bren was elected in the category of Business, Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership –- Private Sector.

Click here for the alphabetized list of Fellows

Click here for the Academy’s full news release

Founded in 1780, the Academy is one of the oldest learned societies in the country and is unique in its breadth and scope. Throughout its history, it has gathered individuals with diverse interests and perspectives to participate in meetings, studies and projects focusing on critical social and scholarly issues.

Considered one of America’s most generous philanthropists, Mr. Bren through the years has contributed, through The Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation, more than $200 million to public schools on The Irvine Ranch and to institutions of higher education. His gifts range from major contributions to local K-12 schools for enrichment programs, after-school programs for low-income children, and scholarship awards, to funding more than 50 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty at institutions for higher learning. At the University of California, Mr. Bren has contributed more to support endowed chairs than any other single donor in UC’s history.

UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, in particular, have benefited from Mr. Bren’s generosity.

In a news release, UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang congratulated Mr. Bren and noted “his extraordinary achievements, leadership, philanthropy, and vision in the arts and sciences.” UCSB is home to the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

A strong conservationist, Mr. Bren for many years has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve environmentally sensitive land in Southern California, a commitment that was recognized in 2006 with the designation of The Irvine Ranch’s protected parks and open spaces as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. He has committed $50 million for the long-term management, preservation and restoration of the natural resources on the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve®, now being carried out by the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve Trust, which Mr. Bren created. Its mission also is to increase public access to the lands.

In 2006, BusinessWeek magazine ranked Mr. Bren 8th on its annual list of “The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists” in the country.

Mr. Bren was elected a Fellow alongside some of the world’s most eminent scientists, scholars, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders, including recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel and Academy Awards. The newly elected Fellows also include UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake.


UCI Names Computer Sciences School After Donald Bren

UC Irvine Renames Computer Sciences School in Honor of Donald Bren

In recognition of a major gift from TIC Chairman Donald Bren, UC Irvine announced today that it is renaming its new computer science school the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. The school’s renaming – to be celebrated at a public event at the campus next Wednesday, June 9 – recognizes a $20 million gift from Mr. Bren to the computer sciences school last December. Mr. Bren’s gift equaled the largest gift ever to UCI and marked another example of the chairman’s support of public education on The Irvine Ranch.

“This school naming is a fitting and enduring tribute to Mr. Bren,” UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone said. “His transformational gift is helping to create a national model for information and computer science research and education, and further strengthens UC Irvine’s position among the nation’s best research universities.” Chancellor Cicerone will participate in next week’s ceremony along with Mr. Bren, UC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs M.R.C. Greenwood, and Debra Richardson, dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

“I am honored to have my name and support associated with the first computer science school in the UC system,” Mr. Bren said. “It is my hope and expectation that the school – and what it produces in the way of human capital and technological innovation – will be the force behind future breakthroughs in education, science and business that will lift our standard of living and our quality of life.”

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is the first independent computer science school within the UC system and one of the fastest-growing programs of its kind in the nation. Elevated from department to school status in December 2002, information and computer sciences enrollment at UCI has grown by more than 125 percent since 1998, to more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students. With experts in areas ranging from embedded computer systems and networking to bioinformatics and the social impacts of computing, the school currently ranks among the top of all public university computer science graduate programs. To learn more about the school, click

At the luncheon ceremony, ground will be broken for the school’s new six-story, 138,000-square-foot research and classroom facility. The building is being financed by the March 2004 passage of Proposition 55 and the passage in 2002 of its companion initiative, Proposition 47, which authorized funds to build, repair and improve the state’s public education facilities. The building is scheduled for completion in 2006 and will be named Bren Hall.

Mr. Bren’s $20 million gift, administered through the Donald Bren Foundation, provides more than $18 million to create 10 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty, an unprecedented number in a single gift to UCI. It also enables the school to compete for the world’s top computer scientists. The balance of the gift creates an endowed fund for excellence, enabling the school to develop and advance interdisciplinary and university-industry collaborations emphasizing new research and enhanced technology transfer efforts.

Mr. Bren has donated more than $40 million to UCI since 1984, and has endowed more permanent faculty chairs than anyone in the campus’s history. In 1988, he established the Donald Bren Endowment to help UCI successfully compete for the nation’s most distinguished faculty and achieve its goal of becoming one of the country’s premier research universities.

See further New Beginnings information on UCI’s website.