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Five West End organizations to receive millions in investment from the Brown-Forman Foundation

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The selected organzation will use the funding to fund and expand educational programs.

Five organizations serving Louisville's West End will receive a combined $50 million in investment from the Brown-Forman Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Brown-Forman Corporation, over the next 10 years.

The organizations include:

“[These organizations] are engaged in transformational change, and we see it and we want to be a part of it,” Ralph de Chabert, the senior vice president for Brown-Forman, said at a press conference announcing the investment.

Each organization will receive its respective investment evenly divided across a 10-year period. 

According to Jill Horn, executive director of the Brown-Forman Foundation, these new investments will make up 3-4% of the total amount of money the foundation donates every year.

All the investments are focused on educational programs. 

Brown-Forman CEO and president Lawson Whiting hopes the continuous investment will help each organization have increased financial security.

“It’s very difficult to build any kind of long-term plan when your security just isn’t there and you’re not sure if you’re gonna be able to fund the program you want to do,” Whiting said. 

AMPED, which is a music education organization, plans to extend its after-school programming.

“Brown-Forman fully understands the need to trust the people working daily in the community, but also as importantly they understand the need to invest in the organizations who serve there,” AMPED executive director and founder Dave Christopher said.

Through the investment, AMPED aims to work with other community-focused organizations to increase its ability to provide social-emotional support for local youth.

The Louisville Central Community Center plans to use the funding to support its Mini-Versity Child Development Program. The program’s goal is to send children to school with the social, educational and emotional skills needed to be successful.

Similarly, the Louisville Urban League plans to use its portion of the investment to grow intensive tutoring services. According to CEO Sadiqa Reynolds, the program costs about $5,000 per student.

Reynolds said that the program has already begun to show improved results for students. She said that all the money the Urban League is set to receive from Brown-Forman will go toward continuing and expanding that program.

Simmons College president Kevin Cosby said the historically black college plans to use its share of the investment to further develop a program focused on training secondary school teachers. 

Cosby said the program addresses racial inequity within education by getting more teachers of color in classrooms.

“According to a study done by Johns Hopkins University, just one Black teacher in the classroom increases the chances of a Black child graduating from high school 36%,” Cosby said. “And the institutions that produce Black teachers are historically Black colleges and universities.” 

Cosby hopes that by extending the college’s education program, more young people will see themselves reflected in their teachers–like the students attending the West End School. 

It's an independently operated boarding school for boys pre-K through eighth grade. Alumni can live at the boarding school while attending a different high school, if they choose. 

The West End School is slated to receive the largest chunk of funding at $20 million. Half of that will go toward ongoing operational costs. The other half will fund the school’s expansion to become co-ed. 

“Our doors will soon be open to serving girls,” Dan Hall, chairman of the West End School Board of Trustees said. “These grants will give us the financial resources to enable us to deepen our commitment to academic excellence and to better equip our students to navigate and strive in an increasingly complicated world.”

Hall did not provide a timeline for when girls would be eligible for admission.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.