We seek to make a significant, positive difference for future generations by helping to solve what we consider to be some our nation’s most important challenges. We pursue this work primarily through three initiatives – Rodel Arizona, Rodel Delaware and the Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. The Delaware and Arizona initiatives focus on public education in their respective states, and the Rodel Fellowship program operates in partnership with the Aspen Institute in an effort to improve the quality of public leadership in the U.S. Other areas in which we work include the advancement of clean energy, corporate purpose, investing in programs that support emotional health and wellness, and funding high quality research.
Bill, Don and Susan Budinger formed the Rodel Initiatives, originally as the Rodel Foundations, in 1999 when Rodel Inc. was sold to a multibillion-dollar chemical company. Rodel Inc. was founded in the late 1960s by Bill Budinger in Delaware and Don Budinger in Arizona. Susan Budinger subsequently joined the company in the early 1990’s. Rodel’s first products were specialty textiles and chemicals used for a variety of surface preparation applications. Ultimately, variants of those products were developed for use in critical stages of semiconductor manufacturing, which fueled much of the company’s tremendous growth. Rodel Inc. had become global in the early 1980’s, through a joint venture in Japan, called Rodel Nitta, as well as the establishment of operations in Europe and elsewhere in Asia. It now operates as a division of the DuPont Companies.
In Delaware, Rodel connects people, ideas and resources with the objective of helping Delaware become a global leader in educating each of its students to contribute and thrive. We work with educators, corporations, community leaders and government to make things happen from concept to execution. Improving the complex, interconnected system of education state-wide requires work on many aspects and in many areas. Our current areas of focus are: funding and equity, early childhood education, social and emotional learning, and pathways to postsecondary success. Other areas of continuing work include: educator support and development, standards and assessment, English language learning, and generating and reporting education data.
In Arizona, Rodel conducts research-based, demand-driven programs that work to tackle urgent needs in Arizona’s public schools. These efforts have included a math program that has significantly improved low-income students’ performance in second through fifth grade on the math portion of Arizona’s state test; a teacher training program that pairs extraordinary, seasoned teachers with new teachers who then go on to teach in schools serving low-income students; a principal training program modeled after the teacher training program; and the organization and sponsorship of regular convenings of a network of education champions from diverse community sectors called All A’s for Arizona.
RODEL FELLOWSHIPS IN PUBLIC LEADERSHIP
Established in 2005, the Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program at the Aspen Institute seeks to enhance America’s democracy by identifying and bringing together the nation’s most promising young political leaders. Elected to local and state offices, selected leaders are chosen for their community spirit, integrity, and demonstrated willingness to consider other points of view. Each year the program selects 12 of those elected leaders from each party for a two-year course of seminars that explore, through study and conversation, the underlying values and principles of American and Western Democracy, and the true meaning of leadership and its responsibilities to one’s communities and the nation. After the first two years, Fellows remain in the program for frequent convenings on current problems facing America.
To date there are 338 Fellows from 48 states. Since entering the program, many fellows have attained higher offices, including 7 governorships, 17 Members of Congress, 3 Presidential Cabinet Secretaries, 20 Attorneys General and numerous Secretaries of State. The Fellows also include past and present Mayors from some of the nation’s largest cities (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Baltimore, San Antonio, Charlotte, San Francisco, Oklahoma City, San Jose, Minneapolis, Oakland, Miami, Long Beach, Albuquerque and Miami).