Kirkpatrick Gift Funds Early Literacy Efforts
Taylor Kirkpatrick (International MBA ‘04) believes that books are for everyone. He also believes that access to books and early literacy programs can contribute to children’s — and their families’ — overall well-being.
Those beliefs were the driving force behind Kirkpatrick’s recent $500,000 gift, which builds on his previous philanthropy, to bolster DU’s efforts to reach children and families in the community with high-quality, evidence-based early literacy programming and resources.
A bibliophile and acclaimed children’s book author in his spare time — he still has a full-time job as President and CEO of Babson Farms — Kirkpatrick’s gift reflects his longstanding commitment to establishing and supporting programs and services for the benefit of underserved children and families in the Denver community.
During his service as Advisory Board Chair of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) from 2019-2021, Kirkpatrick’s leadership and philanthropy were instrumental in establishing DU’s renowned WePlay program, a partnership with the Children’s Museum of Denver. WePlay is a play-based group for caregivers and their young children that provides culturally-responsive support and facilitation based in child development and infant/early childhood mental health best practices.
An outgrowth of WePlay, Kirkpatrick’s gift establishes “WeRead,” connecting several University disciplines committed to engaging the community through early literacy programming.
The gift will help renovate and transform a space in University Libraries to serve as the hub for WeRead, providing an interactive space for families to connect with faculty from the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) and GSPP, participate in Caring for You and Baby (CUB) Lifelong Learning Series events, attend monthly WeRead story times, and explore the library’s Early Childhood Readers Collection (ECRC) — another legacy of Kirkpatrick’s generosity.
Kirkpatrick’s recent gift also endows the ECRC, the first endowed gift at DU in support of early learning and literacy through University Libraries.
In addition to funding the creation of an innovative, multi-use space in University Libraries and supporting the ECRC, Kirkpatrick’s gift supports early childhood psychoeducation, evidence-based caregiver education, and extensive community outreach, allowing DU to further deliver on its vision to be a university dedicated to the public good.
Ultimately, WeRead will support language development, caregiver-child bonding, emotional intelligence, and school readiness for children through psychoeducation and literacy offerings.
Like WePlay, WeRead will serve as an entry point to DU for families who may benefit from other services and programming that DU provides, like mental and behavioral services. In 2022, GSPP was one of the largest Medicaid outpatient providers of mental/behavioral health services in Colorado.
“This multifaceted gift is emblematic of the many things I love about DU, and I hope (it) can be an example of the interdisciplinary approach to giving that (DU is) championing – and that should flourish over the coming years,” Kirkpatrick, who joined the DU Board of Trustees this year, said.
“I can think of no finer example of leadership than Taylor’s,” says dean of University Libraries Michael Levine-Clark. “His investment in expanding the reach of DU’s academic expertise is unparalleled. We are truly fortunate to have him as a member of our Board of Trustees, and as a leader for others to emulate.”