Phi Delta Kappan – “Forever” A Unique Approach to Philanthropy

“So, just how long do you intend to support this school and professional development center in our county?” a Grand County, Colo., commissioner asked in 1992.

“Forever,” replied Mak Itabashi and Tom Dean. They were speaking for American Honda Motor Co., which would go on to create the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo.

The noisy room quieted as the commissioners and audience let that message sink in. Forever is not the ap­proach most private and corporate philanthropies take when funding projects. Certainly, no one can predict “forever,” but Itabashi and Dean clearly signaled that Honda was intending to make a long-term commit­ment to Eagle Rock.

That commitment Honda made nearly 20 years ago continues today, as Eagle Rock School educates students who have not been successful in traditional schools. Its 96 students live on a campus in Estes Park and participate in an intense, interdisciplinary, and value-driven program. The year-round school oper­ates with three trimesters, and admits and graduates students three times a year. Tuition, room and board, and living expenses are all free to the students.

The professional development center (PDC) hosts educators on issues of school reform, renewal, and re­invention. The PDC exports ideas, offers technical as­sistance, participates in national initiatives, conducts research, provides internships and fellowships, publishes books and journal articles, and offers teaching certification. The PDC was designed to offer a low-cost mostly…

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