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Taco/White Foundation Donates $100k to URI's GSO

KINGSTON, RI - (January 18, 2011) – The URI Foundation today announced a $100,000 charitable gift from the Cranston, Rhode Island-based Taco/White Family Foundation. The gift will leverage matching funds through the Robert D. Ballard Endowed Fellowship Challenge, funded by noted oceanographers Dr. Robert D. Ballard and Dr. James A. Austin Jr., which will further enhance the impact of the Taco/White gift. 

The donation will be used to help defray the educational expenses of one or more graduate student whose academic course of study is directly associated with the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Center for Ocean Exploration. Selected graduate students will be highly talented individuals whose academic course of study is in the field of geological oceanography. 

The gift will be matched on a 3:1 basis, with funds from a $100K pledge made by Ballard and Austin in 2010. As a result, Taco’s $100K gift will be matched with an additional $33K.  The Ballard endowment challenge hopes to raise a total of $400,000, strengthening the Graduate School of Oceanography’s capability to compete favorably with the very best oceanographic institutions in the world and educating worthy successors to Bob Ballard. 

“We are deeply appreciative of this latest demonstration of the Taco/White Family Foundation’s generous support for the University and more specifically, the Graduate School of Oceanography” stated David Farmer, the School’s dean. “Securing fellowship funding for outstanding students is among our highest priorities. This commitment to the Ballard Endowed Fellowship is especially important to us because it not only triggers matching funds but because it helps bring greater recognition to the wonderful leadership that Bob Ballard has exercised in shaping the exciting field of Ocean Exploration.” 

Taco President and CEO John Hazen White, Jr. commented: “The Graduate School of Oceanography at URI is a wonderful asset and resource to the Ocean State, made even more significant by the presence of the distinguished oceanographer and explorer Bob Ballard. This gift represents an expansion of involvement for the Taco/White Family Foundation with the Graduate School of Oceanography, and follows a previous smaller gift enabling wireless connectivity for the School’s Inner Space Center.” 

The centerpiece of the Graduate School of Oceanography is the Inner Space Center, a state-of-the-art facility within the newly constructed Ocean Science and Exploration Center at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus. The ISO, modeled after NASA’s Mission Control in Houston, enables researchers and students to monitor, track and share information from oceanographic expeditions and remotely operated vehicles in real time, using advanced satellite communications. Work at the ISO marks the culmination of Bob Ballard’s development of the technique of “telepresence” as a tool of ocean exploration and research. It is enabling the sharing of direct transmissions from the ocean’s floor with middle school students here in Rhode Island to promote interest in science and ocean archeology. 

Speaking of the gift to the fellowship endowment that bears his name, Professor Robert Ballard said, “I am thrilled that Taco and the White Family Foundation have recognized the importance of this effort. This generous contribution will benefit the Center for Ocean Exploration and the students that it trains for generations to come.”

About The White Family Foundation
The White Family Foundation was established in 2000 to receive and evaluate grants and other assistance requests from non-profit, community-based organizations serving significant social goals in Rhode Island. Since its inception the White Family Foundation has provided assistance to almost 300 non-profit organizations active here in RI.

About Taco, Inc.
Taco, Inc., headquartered in Cranston, is a leading manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment for use in residential, commercial and institutional buildings. The company employs approximately 500 in Cranston, Fall River, MA and Milton, Ontario, Canada.

Pictured above, left to right: Dr. Bob Ballard, John Hazen White, Jr. Photo courtesy of Taco/White Family Foundation.


For information on this or any news item, contact Tracey Manni in Development Communications, at 401.874.2145 or