The University of Oregon announced today that it had received a historic $425 million gift from philanthropists Connie and Steve Ballmer, co-founders of the Ballmer Group.
The historical donation will be the lead gift in establishing the Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health, which will be focused on developing a model program for the treatment of children’s behavioral and mental health problems.
As part of the initiative, the Institute will enable several of the university’s research and training programs to work with Oregon public schools and families, and community support groups to develop and evaluate new interventions for K-12 students with behavioral health problems.
“Connie and Steve Ballmer, who have already provided exceptional support and inspiration for children’s behavioral health, are now empowering the university to make immediate and lasting positive impacts on children’s behavioral and mental health,” said University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill.
Schill continued, “A bold effort is needed to address the behavioral and mental health needs of our youth. 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.”
The Ballmer Institute will be based in Portland, at the site of a former Concordia University campus in the northeast party of the city. The Concordia campus closed its doors in 2020. The university’s board of trustees is expected to review a purchase agreement in the upcoming days; details about a purchase price have not yet been made public.
Calling the Ballmer Institute “the first of its kind and the most comprehensive effort undertaken by a U.S. university and its partners” in creating a new model of care for children’s behavior health, the University said the initiative would:
- Develop new behavioral health practitioners through creation of undergraduate degrees and certificate programs for mid-career learners.
- Deliver science-based early detection, prevention, and treatment for children and their families.
- Accelerate the discovery and dissemination of new technologies and research informed by clinical practice.
- Provide scholarships for students enrolling in the new programs through a $100 million endowment.
- Have an initial goal of graduating at least 200 behavioral health practitioners annually.
- Hire more than 20 new faculty members who will train students and conduct research in the field of children’s behavioral and mental health.
- Enhance public-private partnerships where researchers collaborate with school districts’ behavioral health professionals, local agencies, prevention and digital behavioral health startups, and other healthcare providers to deliver behavioral health interventions for children.
Steve Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014. He is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association. Through the Ballmer Group, he and his wife have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations and efforts that support the wellbeing of youth as well as advance racial equity.
“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 in the university’s announcement.
An alum of the University of Oregon, who also served on its Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2021, Ms. Ballmer added, “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.”