Penn State alumnus Richard (Dick) Lippin has made a gift of $150,000 to support the development of pioneering, new technology-based learning resources so that parents, teachers, and child care providers nationwide can help young children understand the how and why of acting ethically and morally.
The Lippin Family Fund provided the funding to promote moral development and ethical behavior in young children in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. The fund will support a partnership between the Rock Ethics Institute and the Child Study Center, both leading research centers based at Penn State, to create and test innovative resources that will promote the development of social and emotional management skills and moral and ethical behavior in children ages 3-7.
“There are few, if any, early childhood programs in the country that focus on children’s ethical learning,” Lippin said. “Existing programs focus primarily on enhancing academic skills such as reading and writing. There is a nationwide gap in current programs, and Penn State has the opportunity to fill that gap and become a national leader in nurturing children’s overall moral well-being. The vision of this fund is to develop resources to help parents, child care providers, and teachers so they can reinforce ethical lessons with their children. We also want to make these resources widely available to parents and schools and break down any economic or diversity barriers to accessibility.''
A core focus of the new project will be to research, build, and test interactive games and stories that will help teachers, parents, and child care providers support children in four areas of healthy development: social skills, emotional understanding, self-control, and social problem-solving skills. In turn, these four core areas provide support for the development of important ethical abilities in children, such as respect for others, empathy, self-determination and ethical reasoning. Another goal is to provide caregiving adults with background information and demonstrations so they understand how to support and reinforce the lessons with their children.
''During the ages of 3-7, children should be developing the basic social skills, emotion management, language skills, and reasoning abilities that allow them to distinguish 'right' from 'wrong' and to understand how their behavior affects others,” said Karen Bierman, director of the Child Study Center and distinguished professor of psychology. ''There are many factors affecting children, families and schools today that increase stress levels and expand exposure to negative influences making it difficult to instill the core skills and values that children need to become caring, concerned, and principled. The Lippin Fund will help us reach out to families and schools with resources that can help.''
''Ethical literacy is a critical component of a well-rounded education,'' explained Nancy Tuana who holds the Nancy Tuana Directorship of the Rock Ethics Institute. ''This initiative will provide young people with a solid foundation for developing life-long skills in moral behavior and ethical decision-making.''
The Child Study Center is a nationally recognized initiative promoting children's development and well-being through the dynamic integration of research, undergraduate and graduate training, and engaged community outreach. It is a Center of Excellence in Penn State’s Children, Youth, and Families Consortium. The Rock Ethics Institute is an international leader in sponsoring innovative teaching and research on ethical literacy in a wide variety of fields ranging from K-12 education to bioethics and climate change.
Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, said, ''This generous gift from Dick will help us launch a pioneering effort to assist young children to acquire greater moral and ethical knowledge and skills and to support parents and teachers in this effort. We thank the Lippin Family for their vision and inspiration for this initiative.''
A graduate of Penn State with a degree in psychology, Lippin is chairman, chief executive officer and founder of The Lippin Group, an international strategic entertainment and media public relations and marketing firm based in Los Angeles. He has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, specializing in entertainment and media.
In March 2013, Lippin was honored with the Service to Society Award by the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board for his volunteer leadership of community and philanthropic organizations. In particular, he founded the Ronnie Lippin Cancer Information and Resource Line in memory of his late wife Ronnie, who died from cancer. The project provides free information and services to cancer patients and their families. In addition, he has supported charitable organizations focused on children, hunger, and help for the elderly and disabled.
Lippin serves on a number of prominent industry and charitable boards and has established ethics and diversity programs at several universities and nonprofit organizations. At Penn State, he is a longtime member of the Rock Ethics Institute Board of Advisors and has endowed an annual lectureship in ethics at the University for many years.
The Lippin gift will help the College of the Liberal Arts reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.