Detroit’s Cornerstone Schools Launches $50M Capital Campaign


Cornerstone Schools in Detroit today announced the launch of a $50 million capital campaign along with the goal of educating 5,000 students, up from 2,800 students, by 2020. The initiative, called Cornerstone Education Group, followed a two-year study.

In 1991, Cornerstone Schools, a K-12 private ISACS accredited institution, opened its doors to 167 students. Today, Cornerstone operates four Grand Valley State University authorized charter schools, three K-8 schools, and one charter high school. The high school had its first graduating class this year, and 90 percent of the graduates are going to college with $3.5 million in scholarships awarded.

“We’re putting a stake in the ground,” says Reid Gough, recently appointed CEO of the group. “We’re going to grow and educate 5,000 children in Detroit and hold ourselves accountable for excellent outcomes in all of our schools.”

Gough says Cornerstone Education Group will partner with any public school, charter or traditional, in order to collaboratively learn what is necessary to help create educational excellence for children in Detroit. Nearly 85 percent of children in K-8 public schools in Detroit are performing below grade level in reading and math.

Clark Durant, a co-founder with Cardinal Adam Maida of Cornerstone Schools, and Tony Early, chair and CEO of PG&E Corp. in California, says more than $20 million has been raised so far for the capital campaign.

“The private-public partnership between the independent, ISACS-accredited Cornerstone School and Cornerstone’s public charter schools is quite unique,” Early says. “It could be of great benefit to both types of schools, as well as the state of education across the city. It will certainly benefit the city of Detroit and the 5,000 students.”

In turn, in August Cornerstone’s annual Turning Point Invitational will lead the effort to raise significant funds with the assistance of Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 professional major championships and one of the nation’s most decorated athletes.

The invitational was started in 2004 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer’s victory in the 1954 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms. Since its inception at the club, the event has raised $15 million.

The name of the invitational stems from Palmer’s first meeting with event co-founders Durant and the late Harold ‘Red” Poling, former CEO of the Ford Motor Co. Palmer said his 1954 U.S. Amateur victory was the “turning point” in his life, and he wanted the event to help create turning points in the lives of the children at Cornerstone.

“I’m pleased that Jack Nicklaus, along with a number of champion golfers, is coming to Michigan in August with a goal to raise $3 million to educate Detroit students at Cornerstone Schools,” says Durant. “Funds raised during the Turning Point Invitational will help get Cornerstone Schools to their goal of 5,000 students.”

The pro-am, to be held on Aug. 15, is part of a two-day event at the Country Club of Detroit, which includes a gala and fundraising dinner on Aug. 14 sponsored by the Ford Motor Co. PwC, which operates a large office in downtown Detroit, and Southfield-based Lear Corp., are sponsoring the one-day pro-am.

“Most of the charitable efforts my wife Barbara and I have been involved in over the decades have focused on children, and securing them a happier today and brighter tomorrow,” Nicklaus says. “That is at the foundation of Cornerstone’s mission and ongoing efforts. So I am honored to join such a likeminded group and delighted to come to Detroit to be a part of an event that will help provide quality education for up to 5,000 children in Detroit. I applaud the work Cornerstone has done to educate so many deserving children.”

Several major champions have agreed to participate in the event, including Mark O’Meara (1998 Masters and British Open), Tom Lehman (1996 British Open), and Jerry Pate (1976 U.S. Open). In addition, U.S. Amateur Champions participating in the event include Matt Kuchar, Fred Ridley, John Harris, and Nathaniel Crosby. William McGirt, the winner this year in a sudden-death playoff at the Memorial Tournament (founded and hosted by Jack Nicklaus), also will attend.

There are several ways to get involved in the invitational: Sponsor a classroom and play in the event with a PGA Tour professional or a past U.S. Amateur champion; sponsor a student for $2,500 and attend a pre-event dinner honoring Nicklaus and Poling; or purchase a gallery ticket for $125 and enjoy a VIP experience in which Nicklaus will play the historic course.

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