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SNF renews support to expand SNF Ithaca Initiative at University of Delaware

Apr 27, 2023

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Ithaca Initiative at the University of Delaware’s Biden School, which works to help civil discourse flourish and students become engaged citizen-leaders, is expanding through a new $3 million grant from SNF.

“Supporting young people in cultivating the values and habits of active, informed citizenship is essential, but it’s just the beginning,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “Our democracies need generations of citizens who, in addition to practicing these values in their own lives, can instill them in their communities too, fostering civil discourse and catalyzing civic engagement. We are proud to partner with the University of Delaware’s Biden School in empowering students on this journey.”

“Education is the foundation of democracy, advancing ideas and fueling progress through constructive dialogue and debate,” said University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis. “Thanks to the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the University of Delaware is able to more effectively carry out its mission. The Biden School is equipped to be a driving force for innovative and equitable solutions to the world’s great challenges, relying on civic virtues and democratic values as the cornerstones of positive change.”

Fostering civic engagement and civil discourse, especially among young people, is a key priority for SNF. Launched in 2021, the SNF Ithaca Initiative includes a range of offerings, from a student leadership program, to visiting SNF Ithaca Fellows, to a National Student Dialogue convening young people from across the country.

The new grant encompasses the creation of an SNF Ithaca Professor of Public Policy position at the Biden School, a cohort of SNF Ithaca Affiliated Faculty from across disciplines, an SNF Ithaca Certificate in Democratic Citizenship, and a new pillar of focus on the role of media in democracy.

Valerie Biden Owens, Chair of the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, said, “My brother often says, ‘America can be defined in one word: Possibilities.’ Over the past two years, I have watched the Biden School’s SNF Ithaca Initiative open a whole new world of possibilities for our students. They are developing skills to more effectively engage in dialogue across differences—how to agree and respectfully disagree, how to find common ground. That’s what we need right now. Our democracy is at an inflection point, and its future is not guaranteed. That’s why I believe the mission of SNF Ithaca is both urgent and vital to our national interest. I am grateful for the unparalleled vision and generosity of SNF’s Andreas Dracopoulos, and for his partnership on this important journey.”