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The Chicago Community Trust has committed a minimum of $5 million over the next five years to foster fundamental changes in elementary and secondary education.

The grant program will emphasize projects in the Chicago area that improve schooling for poor and minority youngsters.

In particular, it will focus on the quality of the teaching profession and on efforts to strengthen the school-community relationship.

Planning grants of up to $100,000 will be made for periods of up to one year. Program grants could total as much as $1- million over a five-year period.

The Trust plans to ask other local foundations and corporations to support the initiative, known as the Elementary and Secondary Education in Chicago Program.

The deadline for submitting a two- to three-page letter of intent, describing a proposed project, is Jan. 29.

For more information, contact: Nelvia M. Brady, senior staff associate, The Chicago Community Trust, 222 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60601; (312) 372-3356.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation in St. Louis has awarded a total of $4.1 million to 12 schools and universities in the U.S. and Canada to help apply cognitive research on learning to the classroom.

"Currently, there are too few opportunities to apply this research to educational practice," said John T. Bruer, president of the foundation.

A selection committee of cognitive scientists and educators chose 10 projects from more than 80 submissions. Most of the projects involve collaborations among several institutions. Among other things, projects will focus on interactive learning, ways to help 1st graders master arithmetic concepts, and how to teach science to middle-school students.

The researchers Robert Sternberg of Yale University and Howard Gardner of Harvard, for example, will use their work on intelligence theories to develop elementary-level curricula.

The Council of Chief State School Officers has received $650,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support collaborative efforts between schools and universities aimed at attracting, preparing, and retaining teachers to work in schools with high numbers of "at risk" students.

The council plans to award grants of $20,000 to $30,000 each for proposals from state education departments.

The Mellon Foundation has since 1981 supported the council's efforts to improve school-university collaborations. The latest initiative is intended to bolster the chiefs' goal of reducing the school dropout rate to zero by the year 2000. The application deadline is April 4.--lo

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