Parents and teachers gathered at the newly constructed Woodbridge High School Performing Arts Center cheered when Superintendent Terry Walker announced that Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation will donate $4 million to celebrate the district’s 50th anniversary.
The gift represents a $2 million annual increase to Irvine Company’s 20-year, nearly $50 million commitment to support arts, music and science education in the Irvine Unified School District.
“Thanks to community support like that of Irvine Company and its Chairman Donald Bren, Irvine students have flourished, leading the state in the arts, math and sciences,” Walker said. “This success has been achieved while many school districts have been forced to drastically cut these programs. This remarkable gift on the occasion of our 50th anniversary and our ongoing partnership will allow the district to further expand our enrichment programs and continue to enhance our commitment to educational excellence.”
Irvine Company’s Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund helps provide art, music and science teachers to every fourth- through sixth-grader in IUSD. Students receive two one-hour science lessons per week, two 40-minute music lessons per week and six one-hour art lessons per year – all taught by highly specialized teachers.
“It provides an equitable program for each child to make sure they are successful,” said IUSD Director of Arts Education Brad Van Patten. “Getting that artistic depth early on in their life can carry on to whatever career they want to do, or they find their passion and want to continue to do this the rest of their life, so it’s a tremendous start.”
Irvine schools are consistently ranked among the nation’s best – despite a little-known fact: The Irvine Unified School District is one of the lowest-funded districts in the state. Due to state funding formulas, Irvine receives less per student than nearly every district in California.
“If it wasn’t for the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund, I’m not sure how we could possibly do this,” Van Patten said. “It truly takes a village to run these programs.”
Since 2006, the program has helped more than 150,000 elementary students and has propelled them to consistently outperform their peers in California and the nation in many of these subjects.
“Education has always been at the core of our planning principles in Irvine,” said Irvine Company Senior Vice President Jeff Davis, “and today’s contribution deepens our company’s decadeslong partnership with IUSD, students and families to support enrichment programs in science, art and music.”