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Two Foundations To Finance Center on Children in Poverty

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The Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York will donate $4 million to finance the new National Center for Children in Poverty for the next three years, officials of the two foundations announced last week.

The center is based at the Columbia University School of Public Health in New York City. Its chief mandate is to publicize beneficial approaches to aiding disadvantaged children under the age of 6.

"We have the knowledge and the model projects needed to address many of the conditions of hardship that threaten children's well-being," Franklin A. Thomas, president of the Ford Foundation, and David A. Hamburg, president of the Carnegie Corporation, said in a joint statement announcing the commitment.

"Our priority," they said, "is to get this information and experience to state and local policymakers and to child-development professionals nationwide."

The foundations' interest in the project was sparked by discussions with experts on prenatal health and child development, according to Vivien Stewart, chairman of Carnegie's "Prevention of Damage to Children" program.

Foundation leaders found, Ms. Stewart said, that "a great deal has been learned over the past 10 to 15 years about healthy child development and intellectual stimulation." But such research, she said, is "often contained in unpublished project reports and is not widely applied."

In reviewing the work of other groups, added Judith E. Jones, the center's director, "it became clear that no other national organization was focused on very young children in poverty."

Minority Fellowships

An initial planning grant for the center provided by the two foundations in January 1987 expired at the end of last year. The new grants--$3 million from the Ford Foundation and $1 million from the Carnegie Corporation--will fund the center's operating expenses.

The money will go toward compiling information, expanding the center's research library, and "heightening public awareness" of the need for early intervention in aiding poor children, Ms. Jones said.

In addition, she said, the center will use the funds to implement a minority-fellowship program for mid-career professionals from a variety of fields. Fellowship recipients would identify model programs in selected states, Ms. Jones said, and help "close the gap between policy development at the state level and local program implementation."

The center also plans to publish reports on related issues, including a statistical profile of children under age 6 and a history of early-education and child-care programs for poor children.--dc

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