From its inception in 1993, the Annenberg Institute at Brown University (also known as the Annenberg Institute for School Reform or AISR) has been focused on improving educational opportunities for children. Though its mission has broadened and deepened, its core concerns with reducing educational inequality and promoting educational excellence have remained constant.
Today the Institute is committed to harnessing systematic research to generate new knowledge, partnering with local educational organizations to directly support educational improvement, bringing together diverse thinkers to tackle difficult problems and create scalable solutions, and engaging the public in a robust practical and philosophical discourse about education and society.
Dr. Loeb has spearheaded the creation of the Annenberg Undergraduate Fellows for Education and Social Policy Program. Designed to prepare current Brown undergraduates to engage in rigorous empirical research in education and social policy, the program begins with an 8-week paid summer internship, followed by research and workshop opportunities throughout the remainder of the student’s undergraduate experience. The program welcomed its first cohort in the summer of 2019.
In July 2018, Susanna Loeb, an expert in education policy, took the reins as director at the Institute. Reflecting the university's strategic plan Building on Distinction, Dr. Loeb — previously the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University and founding director of the Center for Education Policy at Stanford — is refocusing the Institute’s mission and restructuring its relationship to the university. Under Dr. Loeb’s leadership, the Institute emphasizes closer integration with the university’s research and teaching mission, and aims to create a hub of scholarship and policy work that engages faculty, students, and practitioner experts addressing the causes, consequences, and mitigation of educational inequality.
In order to increase coordination between the Annenberg Institute and Brown University more broadly, in 2017 several former Institute programs moved to continue their work in new organizational homes. On September 1, 2017, New York-based Community Organizing and Engagement moved to the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. On November 13, 2017, New England-based Community Organizing & Engagement and District & Systems Transformation moved to Roger Williams University’s University College.
Dr. Warren Simmons stepped down as executive director of the Annenberg Institute in December 2015. He continued to serve as senior fellow and team-taught a course in urban systems and structure in Brown University’s Urban Education Policy master’s program. Former Institute deputy director Michael Grady was named interim executive director.
The Annenberg Institute hosted the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet from 2012 to 2017
The Annenberg Institute’s Board of Overseers established the Ruth J. Simmons Urban Education Policy Scholarship in 2012. This permanent annual award goes to the UEP graduate student who most epitomizes the former Brown University president’s commitment to educational equity and social justice. Dr. Simmons, who served as chair of the Institute’s Board of Overseers beginning with her installation as university president in 2001, was instrumental in urging the Institute and the university’s Education Department to collaborate on a graduate program in the study of urban public education.
In partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation, the Annenberg Institute sponsored a series of eight forums in 2011-14 focused on "Building a 21st Century Education System."
The Annenberg Institute supported the Governor's Urban Education Task Force, a key factor in Rhode Island's successful Race to the Top application, in 2008-09.
The Annenberg Institute opened an expanded New York office in the Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan.
The Institute's programs and staff expanded with the assimilation of the Community Involvement Program, formerly affiliated with the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.
In collaboration with Brown’s Education Department and other university entities, the Institute established a Master’s Program in Urban Education Policy (UEP) in 2005, with the first cohort of students entering the program in the summer of 2006. The tightly focused 12-month academic curriculum, integrated with a 9-month internship, is designed to impart a set of core skills and competencies necessary for successful careers in urban education policy.
The inaugural issue of the Annenberg Institute’s quarterly journal, Voices in Urban Education (VUE), was published in the spring of 2003.
In 2000, the Annenberg Institute opened a small office in New York City in conjunction with the launch of its Task Force on the Future of Urban Districts. In 2001, the Institute moved its Providence operations to new headquarters on Benefit Street, just off the Brown campus.
In October 1998, Dr. Warren Simmons left his position as director of the Philadelphia Education Fund to become executive director of the Institute. Under Dr. Simmons’ leadership, the Institute adopted a mission statement concentrating on the critical need to improve schools in the nation’s urban communities.
After Dr. Sizer's retirement in 1996, Dr. Vartan Gregorian — then president of Brown University — served as acting director, and Ramón Cortines, a member of the Board of Overseers, served as interim director.
The Annenberg Institute’s founder and first director was education reform leader Dr. Theodore R. Sizer. Dr. Sizer was previously the founder and chairman of the innovative Coalition of Essential Schools, which envisioned a type of whole-school reform, with differentiated learning and a commitment to educating informed citizens. Under Dr. Sizer, the Institute built upon the work of the Coalition and expanded its goals, endeavoring to support sustained, focused efforts to enhance the quality of learning of children and youth across the country.
The Annenberg Institute was first established through an anonymous gift to Brown University of $5 million. A subsequent $50 million gift — part of Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg's $500 million Challenge to the Nation to improve public education in America — enabled the fledgling organization to expand the scope of its work. In appreciation for this generous gift, the Institute was renamed in the philanthropist’s honor.
Note: While the Annenberg Institute received an initial gift and other grants from the Annenberg Foundation (Ambassador Annenberg’s charitable trust), Annenberg Institute is a separate entity from the Foundation and from other organizations that were beneficiaries of the Foundation and bear the Annenberg name. The Annenberg Institute does not make grants and cannot consider proposals for funding from outside organizations.