Saturday, March 09, 2002

Private foundations announce $31.5M grant

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Three private foundations will award Ohio $31.5 million in grants for improving education in city schools.

        The grants will be announced Monday at Timken High School in Canton, according to the Cincinnati-based KnowledgeWorks Foundation, which is providing $6.5 million.

        The grants are the largest ever provided public schools in Ohio, KnowledgeWorks said.

        Paul Marshall, director of the Department of Education's office of budget and governmental relations, said he's unaware of a bigger grant for K-12 schools.

        The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $20 million to help create smaller schools at four to six big city high schools. KnowledgeWorks will provide $5 million in matching money.

        “Small schools provide a safe environment in which students can focus on their studies and ultimately graduate from high schools prepared for college, work and civic contribution,” said Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education at the Gates Foundation.

        The schools could be smaller centers based in existing schools or actual new buildings, said KnowledgeWorks spokeswoman Christine Hedges.

        A second program combines $5 million from the Ford Foundation with $1.5 million from KnowledgeWorks.

        That program will help expand Project GRAD in Ohio. The Texas-based program, already in place in Columbus and Cincinnati, is aimed at improving graduation and college attendance rates at big city high schools.

        The Ford Foundation believes this program “will lead to dramatic improvements in public schools throughout the state of Ohio,” said Steven Zwerling, senior program officer for the foundation.

        KnowledgeWorks provides grants for public education initiatives throughout Ohio.


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