The UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies has received $2 million from the Philip and Aida Siff Educational Foundation. The gift establishes the Noah Erenberg Endowment Fund, which will enable UCLA to work with K–12 teachers to improve education for children with learning differences.

Professor Connie Kasari, who holds joint appointments in the department of education and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, will oversee activities funded by the gift. An internationally recognized autism expert, Kasari develops therapies to strengthen children’s social and communication development in classrooms and in the community. Her research incorporates children from low-income and minority backgrounds, who often are left out of other autism studies.

“UCLA Education is honored to steward this gift from the Philip and Aida Siff Educational Foundation,” said Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Wasserman Dean of the education school. “About 20 percent of children in each classroom have learning differences, and too often their needs aren’t adequately addressed. Notably, the Siff Foundation’s gift will enable us to focus on helping low-income communities, where children and families are most in need of resources and help.”

To make the generous gift possible, the Siff Foundation’s board decided to dissolve the foundation and use its remaining assets to establish the new endowment at UCLA.  

The name of the fund honors family member Noah Erenberg, an artist who has spent more than 25 years producing a vast body of work and showing pieces throughout Southern California and the Central Coast. His work will be on display in the “Radical Art” exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, October 19 to December 9. Erenberg’s art draws from his experience as an individual on the autism spectrum, and it enables him to live an independent life.

“The board of the Philip and Aida Siff Educational Foundation was pleased to make this gift toward UCLA’s work to create better learning opportunities for children with special needs,” said Elena Siff Erenberg, Noah Erenberg’s mother and the foundation’s former president. “This endowed gift is designated always to the UCLA department of education and its work to improve the way K–12 schools support children who, like my son Noah, have learning differences but also have the potential to lead fulfilling and successful lives.”

The gift is part of the UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.