Institute for Responsible Citizenship Named for Powell Family

Collegiate School’s Institute for Responsible Citizenship was named last evening in honor and appreciation of the longtime support and commitment of the Powell family.
At the naming ceremony in McFall Hall, Collegiate Head of School Steve Hickman expressed how much he had looked forward to the event because, “Tonight’s celebration goes to the heart of the Collegiate mission: honoring some of the most important work that we do to breathe life into that mission.

Before a video presentation, Mr. Hickman thanked the Powell family — which includes former Board of Trustee members Angus Powell, his son Bryce and his wife Franny '69, as well as their sons Bryson ‘98 and Hunter ‘01 and Bryce’s sister Becky Powell —  for their example of servant leadership and citizenship.

“Your family’s story inspires us in this work and will continue to inspire us for many generations to come,” he said. “On behalf of a grateful Collegiate School community, I thank you for all that you have done for our School and for the broader Richmond community.”

The Powell family connection to Collegiate began with Angus Powell, Collegiate Board Chair (1956-69) and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Board Chair, who was a huge proponent of economic education and economic literacy. Forty years ago, just after his death, the Powell Economic Education Foundation was established to provide funding for the Cochrane Summer Economic Institute, a community outreach program for students in the Richmond area, as well as education initiatives at Collegiate.

“Mr. Powell lent his passion for what it was to be a good citizen to his work as a board member and to the School,” said former Collegiate Head of School Rob Hershey. “He really believed in economic education and that was the legacy he wanted to leave for the School. He was really ahead of his time. It was exciting to see it implemented here.”

The Powell family has a long history of engagement with the Powell Foundation and Collegiate. Since the foundation’s early work focused on economic literacy and, because the area was well established at Collegiate, it launched Collegiate’s Responsible Citizenship initiative as the first of eight pillars (Economic Literacy, Global Engagement, Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Ethics, Civic Engagement and Service Learning) five years ago.

“When it was established, it was one of kind in the country for a school to endorse the importance of economic education and economic literacy as components in the curriculum,” said Bryce Powell.

The idea of citizenship, long a part of Collegiate, stems from Collegiate’s founder, Helen Baker, who laid the foundation for a century of scholarship and citizenship. So much of the work of Responsible Citizenship ties back her vision: "Above everything else, I would have you live for humanity's sake. I would have you good citizens in the widest sense …"
A unique and intentional program, Responsible Citizenship is the embodiment of the School’s guiding principle, “Minds that seek. Hearts that serve.” Since 2015, Collegiate has broadened and expanded the burgeoning initiative into a full-fledged Institute that combines citizenship and scholarship through the eight pillars. These concepts are infused within the JK-12th Grade curriculum and ensure that each grade level builds upon the foundation of the previous one, supporting students’ growth. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 4th, 8th and 12th Grade Capstone programs that each incorporate two or more of pillars and serve as a culminating experience for Lower, Middle and Upper School students.

Responsible Citizenship as a model brings all aspects together with common and defined student outcomes as articulated in Collegiate’s Portrait of a Graduate, says Clare Sisisky, founding Director of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, who attended yesterday’s naming ceremony.

“We are an institution that is committed to scholarship and academics, but we do that in partnership with citizenship,” she said. “It is a big part of who we are as a School and it is infused in every part of Collegiate.”

This year, as a testament to the School’s belief of the significance of Responsible Citizenship, a standing committee on the Board of Trustees was created.

“They have elevated the conversation about Responsible Citizenship to say this is very important to who we are as a School and who we will become as a School in the future,” Mr. Hickman said.

Bryce Powell said his father would be pleased by the evolution of his vision.

“He would be thrilled to have our name associated with this type of initiative,” Mr. Powell said. “I don’t think there could be a greater honor. And I know he would concur.”