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Foundation Gives $50 Million to 5 Cities for Disadvantaged

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Five cities will receive a total of $50 million in foundation grants over the next five years to help lower their dropout, teen-pregnancy, and youth-unemployment rates.

The sites selected for the awards by the Annie E. Casey Foundation are Dayton, Ohio; Lawrence, Mass.; Little Rock, Ark.; Pittsburgh; and Savannah, Ga.

The grants, announced March 9, are part of the foundation's "New Futures'' initiative, which is designed to reshape the way institutions serve disadvantaged children through collaborative citywide efforts. (See Education Week, March 2, 1988.)

The cities' plans include more team teaching for students; the development of "case managers'' for at-risk youths; expanded health-education courses to help prevent teen-age pregnancy; and attempts to link in-school learning with the world of work.

As part of New Futures, for instance, businesses in each city have agreed to provide jobs for a specified number of high-school graduates annually, or have demonstrated that they will move in that direction over the next five years.

Larger Impact

"We hope that New Futures will have an impact beyond the borders of the five cities receiving ... awards,'' Martin Schwartz, director of the Greenwich, Conn., foundation, said in making the announcement.

"[W]e hope to identify approaches and practices that can guide other cities, the states, the private sector, and the federal government.''

Altogether, 10 cities were invited to submit proposals for New Futures.
The grant recipients have promised to match the foundation funds with money from other sources.

In addition, each city will develop numerical objectives for reducing its dropout, teen-pregnancy, and youth-unemployment rates; provide "positive incentives'' for students and educators to help address the problems; and assign a single agency to oversee its plans.

Specific Plans

The five sites have developed a variety of strategies to tackle the problems of disadvantaged children and young adults. For example:

  • Dayton will provide each at-risk student with a case manager, who will ensure that he or she receives services from a variety of agencies. The city also plans to restructure two middle schools, so that teams of six educators work with no more than 150 students.
  • Lawrence plans to hire a youth worker in each Hispanic neighborhood, who will become part of a comprehensive case-management team. Lawrence school officials also plan to revise curricula to reflect the needs of their majority Hispanic population.
  • Little Rock plans to restructure its junior high schools. Under the new system, the core curriculum will be taught by teachers working in groups of four. Each team will have a maximum of 120 students.

In addition, schools will remain open in the afternoon and evening for community-sponsored activities, including homework help, remedial assistance, and other opportunities for students to work with older "mentors.''

  • Pittsburgh also plans to provide extended hours in eight "community schools'' that will offer both academic and recreational services.

The city also will expand an existing family-support initiative that stresses the values of education, responsible behavior, and self-respect.

  • Savannah will develop an individual education plan for students in selected middle schools, based on the recommendations of a team of academic and social-service experts. The teams will follow the students until the 8th grade, when they will be assigned to case managers.

The school system will offer remediation labs for students who are two years behind in coursework, and remedial team-teaching for students who are one year behind.

The five finalists that did not receive New Futures grants were Bridgeport, Conn.; Fresno, Calif.; Greenville, S.C.; Reading, Pa.; and Rochester, N.Y.

Foundation officials said they may provide more limited assistance to those communities.--L.O.

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