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 Leadership Institute. The Arizona and Delaware initiatives focus on public education in their respective states, and the Rodel Leadership Institute works 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. Rodel Delaware is a supporting organization of the Delaware Community Foundation.
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 Arizona is a supporting organization of the Arizona Community Foundation.
The Rodel Institute is a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit devoted to strengthening American democracy and improving the quality of public leadership in the United States. A center for leadership learning and intellectual development, the Institute helps America’s most promising leaders: 1) deepen their commitment to democracy and the rule of law, 2) become more effective public servants, and 3) work together to address some of our nation’s most important challenges. The Institute’s programs convene diverse leaders from across the political, legal and policy spectrum in an effort to find common ground, build relationships, and encourage the understanding and cooperation needed to govern a complex 21st century democracy.
Rodel Institute’s signature program is the Rodel Fellowship, which was created in 2005. Each year, the program’s diverse selection committee invites 24 outstanding state and local-level leaders, divided equally between the two political parties, to come together for a series of three multi-day seminars held over a two-year period. Working with leading scholars as moderators, the Fellows read and discuss classic texts dealing with ethical values, democratic principles, and wise and effective leadership. Following completion of the core Rodel Fellowship seminars, Fellows have an opportunity to gather periodically to discuss critical questions of public policy and public leadership in a nonpartisan setting.
Keying off the readings, the Fellows examine new leadership approaches, deepen self-examination and self-awareness, and learn how to work together across party lines to identify shared values and find solutions to important problems. Since its creation, over 360 elected leaders have completed the program. These Fellows have gone on to serve as United States senators, governors, mayors, party leaders, Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, and Vice President of the United States.