Todd Penner, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, U.S. Education

FUNDING AREAS: College preparation and completion

CONTACT INFO:, 512-600-5501

IP TAKE: Penner brings a finance and accounting background to his role as a funder of college readiness programs. He supports new and existing programs and likes to see the numbers that show they work.

PROFILE: Todd Penner oversees the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation's portfolio of College Preparation and Completion projects under its U.S. Education program. The goal of the College Preparation and Completion initiative is to empower more students, especially high-needs students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, to graduate high school college-ready and obtain a college degree.

Penner has been with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation since 2008. As program officer for the College Preparation and Completion initiative, he has funded school systems, institutions of higher education, and non-profit groups. Nonprofits such as College Forward and Breakthrough Austin have received funding for new and existing programs to support their efforts to address the academic needs of low-income students and increase college enrollment and completion.

This foundation also values research and evaluation to gauge program effectiveness. Some grants awarded under the College Preparation and Completion program have funded efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of various programs. Organizations that want to pilot a new program or expand an existing one, and have a plan for showing the numbers that demonstrate its effectiveness, may find strong support from Penner.

Penner also seems interested in college readiness projects that prepare more girls and young women to succeed in science, mathematics, and other STEM fields. He is treasurer of Girlstart, a nonprofit in Austin, Texas, that empowers girls to study science, technology, engineering, and math.

Prior to joining the Dell Foundation, Penner was director of worldwide e-support with Dell Inc. He has also worked for Exxon Chemical Company and Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Penner has an accounting background, holding a master of business administration in finance from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of business administration in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.