The Ballmer Gift

A Transformational Gift 

Connie and Steve Ballmer give more than $425 million to establish the institute and a new model of delivering critical behavioral health care services

Transformational gift establishes institute, new model of delivering critical behavioral health care services

On March 1, the University of Oregon announced the establishment of The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health, a bold new approach to addressing the behavioral and mental health care needs of Oregon’s children. The Portland-based institute is made possible by a lead gift of more than $425 million from Connie and Steve Ballmer, co-founders of Ballmer Group Philanthropy.

The institute establishes a new national model for the promotion of children’s and adolescent’s behavioral health and well-being by uniting the UO’s top-ranked teaching, research, and outreach programs, Oregon public schools and families, and community support groups in the creation and delivery of behavioral health promotion, prevention, and intervention programs that can be part of the daily lives of K-12 students. The UO will propose a new undergraduate degree program and launch a graduate certificate program for educators to empower a new workforce eager to meet children’s needs within schools and community organizations.

The commitment of more than $425 million allows the UO to chart a new path for higher education. “As a public research university, it is always important to reflect our broad role within the state and beyond,” said Patrick Phillips, UO Interim President. “We naturally celebrate our core mission of education and research, but here we have an unprecedented opportunity to build upon these strengths to have an incredible impact on the world.”

The Ballmers, through Ballmer Group Philanthropy, have a legacy of building partnerships that support our youth. “Right now, the need for behavioral health services across our country is at critical levels, and there is an opportunity to strengthen and enhance the behavioral health system so that it is set up to address every child’s needs - now and in the future,” said Connie Ballmer, who earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon and served on its Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2021. “Steve and I are excited to help bring to life this institute, which can help strengthen talent and build partnerships to create long-lasting impact for Oregon’s kids and families.”

$425M+
Gift from Connie and Steve Ballmer, launching the Ballmer Institute
$100M
Endowment for scholarships for
oregon undergraduates
200+
Behavioral Health specialists graduated annually when fully operational

The Ballmer Institute will be based in Portland, the state’s population center, and will partner with K-12 schools statewide beginning with Portland Public Schools. Portland Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said he believes this type of collaboration has tremendous implications for both young people and educators.

“The global pandemic has only amplified the mental and behavioral health needs of students here in Portland and across the country,” said Guerrero. “School districts are often ill-equipped to adequately address these barriers to learning. We have a responsibility to find innovative ways to support the holistic needs of our students and are excited for our groundbreaking partnership with the Ballmer Institute.”

Governor Kate Brown also endorses and supports this novel approach. “Oregon must take action to address the behavioral and mental health crisis that we are facing in communities across the entire state,” Brown said. “I am so pleased the Legislature has made a significant investment in resources, support and services. However, we need a workforce. And that’s where the Ballmer Institute steps up.”

The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health at the University of Oregon will be the first of its kind and the most comprehensive effort undertaken by a U.S. university and its partners, creating a new profession to meet the behavioral health workforce needs of children and youth. Through the institute, the UO will:

Create a new undergraduate degree program in child behavioral health and graduate level certificate program for educators. The new degree program is subject to state approval.

Deliver science-based early behavioral health promotion, prevention, and intervention strategies directly into the lives of children and their families.

Accelerate the discovery and dissemination of new technologies and research informed by the community context where child behavioral health specialists will serve children and youth.

Provide scholarships through a $100 million endowment to graduate a new, diverse and culturally rich workforce prepared to work directly with those in need.

Early goals call for the Ballmer Institute to graduate annually, from the proposed bachelor’s degree program, at least 200 child behavioral health specialists prepared to bring their passion and unique skill set into Oregon’s public schools and community organizations. The University of Oregon will also offer a graduate certificate program for educators who can make an immediate and lasting impact on the lives of their students.

Initial plans also call for hiring about 25 new faculty members who will collaborate continually to inform, strengthen, and expand the body of research in the field of children’s behavioral and mental health. While training students, the faculty members will also develop innovative programs and refine approaches in the education community.

The unique approach calls for enhanced public-private partnerships in which researchers will work in coordination with school districts’ behavioral health professionals, local agencies, prevention and digital behavioral health startups, and healthcare providers to deliver behavioral health wellness strategies into the daily lives of children and youth.

The new University of Oregon campus in northeast Portland is slated to be home to the new institute and its academic, research, and outreach programs.

 

Impactful Partnerships

 
connie ballmer
“Steve and I are excited to help bring to life this institute, which can help strengthen talent and build partnerships to create long-lasting impact for Oregon’s kids and families.”

—Connie Ballmer
Co-Founder, Ballmer Group

michael schill
“This gift is monumental. It enables UO researchers and experts to build on a collective vision to develop innovative and scalable programs, and to address the need for a sustainable workforce that can work directly with our children.”  

—Michael Schill
Professor, School of Law
President, University of Oregon

guadelupe guerrero
“The Institute is a new model of prevention and care, one that empowers more people who are passionate about supporting our children in new ways.”

—Guadalupe Guerrero
Superintendent, Portland Public Schools

governor brown
“By combining research, training practitioners and working real-time within public schools, The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health will allow individuals to make one-on-one impact while creating wellness across a broader community. Never could we have imagined a better way to build on the Oregon Department of Education’s Integrated Model of Mental Health.”  

—Kate Brown
Governor of Oregon

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