Penn receives historic $125 million grant for tuition-free nurse practitioner program

The gift is from alumnus Leonard A. Lauder, whose parents created the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Nurse practitioner students at the University of Pennsylvania now have the chance to go to school for free.

The university received a $125 million grant to offer free tuition to nurse practitioners who work in underserved communities.

The gift is from alumnus Leonard A. Lauder, whose parents created the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder.

"Now more than ever, the country needs greater and more equitable access to quality primary care-and highly-skilled nurse practitioners are the key to making that happen," Lauder said in a statement released Monday.

Lauder continued, "The program will ensure that more Americans receive the essential health care services that everyone deserves, and I'm so pleased to be working with Penn Nursing on this initiative. I look forward to welcoming our first class of future nurse practitioners this fall. I know their expertise will be matched only by their commitment to serving our communities."

Penn said the gift comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has "magnified the nation's acute shortage of primary care providers, and persisting inequities in access to quality healthcare."

"This is the most timely and consequential gift not only for our university but for our country. It is unprecedented in its potential to address America's most critical need of providing primary health care to all who currently lack it by investing in nurses," former Penn President Amy said in a statement.

Students selected for the new two-year graduate program, known as the Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Program, will finish debt-free.

Penn says this is the largest gift ever given to an American nursing school.

"Growing the number of nurse practitioners who are prepared and committed to working in underserved areas is the most practical and inspiring way to ensuring a healthier country. I am grateful and honored that Leonard would make this gift to Penn Nursing, and thrilled to know that it will have an immediate impact that will last far into the future," Gutmann said.

Penn Nursing will select 10 fellows to begin classes this fall. By 2026, the program is scheduled to reach its annual target enrollment of 40 fellows.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.