– Gift is in conjunction with matching funds provided by the Robert D. Ballard Endowed Fellowship Challenge –

Dr. Ballard along with Taco/White Family Board Cranston, RI, January 18, 2011 – The Taco/White Family Foundation will be providing a three-year gift totaling $100,000 in support of the Robert D. Ballard Endowed Fellowship Program at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, the Foundation has announced.

The gift will help defray the educational expenses of one or more graduate students whose academic course of study is directly associated with the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Center for Exploration and Archeological Oceanography. Selected graduate students will be highly talented individuals whose academic course of study is in the field of Geological Oceanography.

The gift from Taco and the White family will be in support of the Ballard Endowed Fellowship Challenge Grant, in which individual donations supporting graduate fellowships at the Graduate School of Oceanography will be matched three-to-one against $100,000 put up by Dr. Ballard and Dr. James Austin, a fellow oceanographer and colleague of Ballard. Their pledge of $100,000 will mean that for every three dollars pledged in new donor gifting, one dollar from the Ballard/Austin endowment will be leveraged as a match.

The 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.

“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,” said Taco President and CEO John Hazen White, Jr. “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 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. Bob Ballard terms the exploration and research being conducted at the ISO “telescience,” and the School of Oceanography has begun sharing it with middle school students here in RI 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/The White Family Foundation and Taco 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 Taco/The White Family Foundation
Taco/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 Taco/The White Family Foundation has provided assistance to almost 300 non-profit organizations active here in RI. www.thewhitefamilyfoundation.com.

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. www.tacocomfort.com