Simmons College of Kentucky is among several organizations in the Louisville, Kentucky area on the receiving end of $50 million! Get the full story from Alexis Mathews at WLKY below.

Credit: WAVE Louisville

Known for delivering high-quality spirits, Louisville-based Brown-Forman is now emphasizing how much it values high-quality education.

“Today’s announcement is another step on that journey and our commitment to positive, long-term change here in Louisville,” said Lawson Whiting, CEO of Brown-Forman Corporation and director of the Brown-Forman Foundation.

To support five west Louisville organizations already committed to this equitable work, the foundation, for the next 10 years, is investing $50 million to amplify their educational programs.

The partnerships include AMPED, which is receiving $5 million, the Louisville Central Community Center, getting $10 million, the Louisville Urban League, which is receiving $5 million, Simmons College of Kentucky, which will receive $10 million, and the West End School, which is receiving the largest gift of $20 million.

“These are organizations that have been tremendous leaders, proven performers and advocates for west Louisville and their success, and we’re going to build on top of that success,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

The Urban League plans to use its funds to increase wrap-around services like intensive tutoring. The program was created during the pandemic as kids fell behind in math and reading due to loss of learning. CEO Sadiqa Reynolds hopes the grant will increase test scores and close the achievement gap.

“We needed something we could scale, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re investing in programs where we can serve 50 students or 5,000 students,” Reynolds said. “Policy has hurt Black students and we’re going to be intentional about focusing on those kids.”

Reynolds also notes the importance of these long-term investments and the impact on grassroots organizations.

“The hardest part about running an organization is the fundraising because you can’t plan. We hire people based on the grants that we have, so when grants run out, jobs run out.” she said. “This gives us an opportunity to plan so we can take care of the community even more.”

The West End School, which traditionally educates at-risk boys, is receiving the most funding. School officials plan to use some of the $20 million to expand their academic services to girl students.

“We know that girls in our community experience the same or if not even more serious challenges than our boy students,” said Daniel Hall, board chair for the West End School. “We thought it was only natural and fitting that we expand our mission now that we have the capacity and resources to do that.”

Like Hall, the community partners say this investment deepens their commitment to academic excellence and the next generation of leaders.

“This money is helping to build up the best so that we can bring in the best because you can never attract eagles if your institutions are chicken coops,” said Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons College. “Thank you, Brown Forman.”

The investment is the largest by the Brown-Forman Foundation since it was created in 2018.