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Innovative Education Programs Win $100,000 Grants

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Washington--The Ford Foundation has awarded $100,000 grants to education-related programs in Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Vermont that were among 10 deemed "models of creativity" by a panel of judges.

The winners in the 1988 Innovations in State and Local Government Awards Program, which is co-sponsored by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, were announced here Sept. 30.

According to Franklin A. Thomas, the foundation's president, the projects chosen "clearly show [that] state and local governments have stepped forward to meet important public needs in bold and imaginative ways."

The winners were selected from among 970 applicants. The grants will be used to expand the efforts locally and help their directors replicate them nationally.

The winning programs include:

Illinois's Project Match, which encourages welfare recipients in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project to return to school, obtain job training, and find work. Although many clients lose their first jobs, officials say, the project quickly places most of them in new jobs or training programs with performance and wages usually rising.

Kentucky's Parenthood and Child Education Program, an effort to stop the intergenerational pattern of illiteracy in rural areas by combining adult education with early-childhood development. Participating parents and their children arrive at school together, attend separate classes, and then reunite for lunch. The parents also attend sessions on parenting and receive academic and vocational counseling.

The Tupelo, Miss., school district's Public/Private Partnerships in Education Program, which has enlisted businesses, citizens, local foundations, andgovernment officials in an effort to raise funds to supplement school-tax levies. Since 1983, the program has raised more than $2.5 million to support teacher inservice training, after-school tutorials for the gifted, and textbook and computer purchases.

Vermont's Statewide Library Automation Project, a computer network aimed at making all of the state's public and private library collections available to all citizens. Through the network, information and hard-to-find books are available to even the smallest public and school libraries.

The $4.5-million awards program, now in its third and final year, has attracted more than 3,000 entries since 1986. The foundation plans to resume the program in an expanded form in 1990, in cooperation with selected universities in regions throughout the country.

Foundation officials said the new university-based "regional innovation centers" will provide technical assistance to local and state goverments and conduct regional awards programs. Regional winners will then compete for the national awards.

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