Committed to improving inner-city schools
University of Delaware

Committed to improving inner-city schools

Alumna’s commitment to inner-cities inspired the establishment of scholarship fund to support urban educationDonna

The University of Delaware’s College of Education and Human Development has received a generous commitment from Donna M. Fontana, a 1985 Lerner graduate and regional sales manager at Fidelity Investments. Her gift will support UD undergraduates who are preparing to teach in an urban setting.

Donna’s passion for education and her commitment to improving inner-city schools inspired her to establish a scholarship fund for aspiring inner-city school teachers. As a resident of New York City, Donna is well aware that many of the inner-city schools are failing their students. For the past 15 years, she has sponsored promising inner-city students by covering their tuition at a parochial school and mentoring them through graduation. She has seen how this opportunity changed their lives, as many of them went on to higher education and broke the cycle of poverty in their families.

One day while watching a documentary about urban education, she realized that she could have a much wider reach if she sponsored the training of inner-city teachers. As a volunteer teacher for Citizen Schools, Donna is teaching financial literacy to middle school students in a NYC school. These experiences gave Donna an even greater respect for teachers as professionals and a clearer understanding that the single most effective tool in reaching children is a good teacher. She thought back to her own public school education and how education was the path that opened doors for her in her own life.

"I'm honored to be able to sponsor a scholarship that will help attract highly qualified teachers into our inner city classrooms. When our teachers succeed, our students succeed,” Donna said. “This scholarship for the Urban Education certification program at UD will help prepare teachers to address the unique challenges of teaching in inner city schools and provide their students with all the opportunities of a great education."

In July 2011, Donna decided to use funds she had been saving in her charitable gift fund to establish an endowment fund at the University of Delaware to help nurture excellence in teaching. The scholarship fund will support students who are pursuing an urban education concentration in the College of Education and Human Development.

The first scholarship is expected to be awarded in fall 2012.

For more information about UD’s minor in Urban Education, contact Vickie Lucas by email at or visit