San Francisco’s schools have lost a great champion with the passing of philanthropist and Lowell alum Warren Hellman yesterday evening. From the school district’s press release:
“Warren was by far the most generous supporter of San Francisco public schools. He championed so many important opportunities for our city’s children. Not only did he personally give, but he inspired others to give; his contributions were multiplied millions of times over,” says School Board President Hydra Mendoza. “He will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his family.”
Hellman led the campaign to create the Public Education Enrichment Fund, a City Charter amendment passed by voters in March 2004 that guarantees city funding for public schools and pre-schools through 2015. The fund includes support for arts, music, sports, and library programs in SFUSD.
He was also a major contributor to three successful school bond campaigns resulting in every one of San Francisco’s public school facilities receiving or slated to receive facilities upgrades, including replacing aging school buildings, improving accessibility for disabled students and modernizing classroom interiors.
“The district has lost its best friend. No one has singlehandedly done more for our schools than Warren. His legacy is in the generations of public school children who now have better school buildings and whose access to arts, sports and libraries has been sustained through local funding in spite of the economic downturn,” says Superintendent Carlos Garcia.
In addition to his leadership for local school funding propositions, Hellman chaired the San Francisco School Alliance Advisory Board through which he engaged other business leaders in contributing to school district initiatives.
A great music lover, he also sponsored an annual event as part of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, where once a year, thousands of sixth grade students in the city were brought to Golden Gate Park to enjoy a private concert just for them.
Beyond sending my condolences to his family, there’s nothing much else to say besides: Thank you, Warren, for everything you did for San Francisco. You will be greatly missed.