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2014

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SMU announces $2.5 million gift from Russell and Dorothy Budd to improve K-12 education in low-income communities

May 12, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – A $2.5 million gift from Russell and Dorothy Budd '06 will endow the newly named Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Russell and Dorothy Budd
Russell and Dorothy Budd

This endowment builds upon 10 years of work and $3.5 million in previous donations by the Budds to nonprofit organizations serving West Dallas, among them the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition, which began in 2004. The Coalition's partnership with SMU’s Simmons School began in 2011 through what was originally called the Center on Communities in Education. 

The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education will focus on a strategic and holistic approach to fighting poverty by transforming education, centering on West Dallas as a model that can eventually be utilized by other urban areas. The Budd Center, in partnership with SMU, numerous non-profits and DISD, will help families succeed by recognizing, assisting with and tracking success in overcoming myriad issues that afflict struggling communities such as healthcare, education, legal services, safety and nutrition.

"SMU's partnership with West Dallas has created meaningful service and learning opportunities for our students and faculty members," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "In turn, the Simmons School shares evidence-based strategies, resources, faculty experts and student volunteers to improve the lives of 8,500 K-12 students among those who live in West Dallas. The Budd's generous gift will enable the Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education to have an even greater impact."

The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education is the backbone organization for The School Zone, an existing organization that supports collaboration between 16 West Dallas public schools and 29 nonprofit agencies. The mission of The School Zone is to ensure that West Dallas children have the educational tools they need to exit poverty: parent involvement, early childhood learning, support for teaching and learning and the connection of students with resources.

“The Budd family, through its service in the West Dallas community, understands how important it is to study the various factors that may contribute to obstacles in student learning and then to impact those factors through strategic action,” says David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “The Simmons School is quite fortunate to have the Budd’s support to improve education by finding collective remedies that we hope our research can illustrate.”

Russell Budd, a leader nationwide among plaintiff’s attorneys, has devoted his three-decade career to championing the rights of people and communities injured by corporate malfeasance. Currently, Mr. Budd serves as president and managing shareholder in over one of the nation’s largest and oldest plaintiff’s firms, Baron & Budd, PC, headquartered in Dallas.

“The Budd Center is a radical concept that looks at every factor that influences success - and ultimately helps communities improves their lives, their schools and their children’s futures,” said Russell Budd. “I am honored that Dorothy and I have been able to see this to fruition.”

Rev. Dorothy Budd is a deacon at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, a role that focuses on community outreach, focusing on helping homeless high school students. Rev. Budd also is an attorney who previously worked in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

The $2.5 million gift for the Budd Center supports the goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised $ 874 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University's founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.


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Media Contact:
Nancy George
SMU News & Communications
214-768-7650
ngeorge@smu.edu