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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided $1.5- million to help a coalition of schools, universities, and research organizations in the Boston area promote literacy.

Known as the Literacies Institute, the effort will be housed at the Education Development Center Inc., a nonprofit research and development firm. The institute plans to carry out research on literacy, work with teachers to help them build on the communications skills of minority students, and publish a national newsletter.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Responsive Education, a public-interest group based in Boston, has announced full funding of a two-year program to develop ways for schools and parents in low-income communities to work together.

"Schools Reaching Out" has two basic elements: the creation of "laboratory schools" that will pilot approaches to school-community relations, and the establishment of a national panel to offer ideas to the schools and report on the project's findings.

"By combining research and theory with the challenging realities of daily life within schools, we hope to model effective solutions that we can share with other low-income communities," said Don Davies, the project's director.

The two public elementary schools chosen for the project are the David A. Ellis School in Boston and P.S. 111 in New York City.

Funding for the effort, totaling $438,500, includes grants from the MacArthur, Leon Lowenstein, Aaron Diamond, J.M., and Boston Globe foundations.

A group of concerned New Yorkers has created a new fund to substantially increase private-sector support for the New York City public schools.

Known as the Fund for New York City Public Education, the initiative has already received more than $2 million in support.

"A year ago, Chancellor Richard Green asked for more private funding to address the school system's most tenacious problems," said Richard I. Beattie, a former member of the city's board of education and chairman of the fund. The fund "is a response to his challenge."

Initial support has come from the New York Community Trust and the Rockefeller, Aaron Diamond, Ford, Charles Hayden, Uris Brothers, and Samuel and May Rudin foundations.

The fund will provide discretionary grants to schools, help them manage major grants from private funders, support teacher exchanges, and provide small grants directly to principals and teachers.

In addition, the organizers plan to establish a grantmakers' network to keep donors informed about the schools, and to bring together key individuals to analyze school problems.--lo

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