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Corporate Gifts to Schools Up Nearly 50% From '87 to '88

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Corporate giving to precollegiate education grew by nearly 50 percent from 1987 to 1988, a new survey has found, while higher education's share of education contributions dropped for the first time in the poll's 15-year history.

The survey of charitable giving by major companies found that elementary and secondary schools accounted for 8.8 percent of the respondents' $615 million in contributions to education in 1988, up from 6 percent the previous year.

The share of such contributions going to colleges and universities dropped from about 70 percent to 64 percent during the same period.

The annual survey is co-sponsored by the Council for Aid to Education, a nonprofit group funded by the business community, and the Conference Board, a network of top corporate executives.

"We are in the early stages of what looks to become a major, sustained corporate concern" for precollegiate education, Arnold R. Shore, president of the council, said in releasing the figures this month.

"While our surveys," he continued, "can capture some of this ... they do not reflect the increasing investment of time, effort, and thought being given to national education issues by our business leadership."

The growing corporate role in aiding K-12 education was dramatized last fall by multi-million-dollar commitments to school projects from the Coca-Cola Foundation and the RJR Nabisco Foundation. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1989.)

Data for the survey were provided by 356 companies, which account for at least a third of all corporate giving to charitable causes, according to the CFAE From the information provided by those companies, the council estimated total corporate giving.

'Holding Steady'

Corporate contributions to education and other charitable endeavors rose by 3.2 percent from 1987 to 1988, to an estimated $4.8 billion, according to the council. Of that amount, education at all levels received an estimated $2.1 billion, representing a proportion of total giving near the all-time peak of 44 percent in 1987.

Actual charitable contributions for the companies surveyed totaled $1.67 billion in 1988. Their grants to precollegiate education totaled $52 million for that year, up from $34 million the preceding year.

Education as a whole is now receiving more than twice the amount of money from business that it received a decade ago, the council reported. Between 1976 and 1986, corporate giving grew by an estimated 15 percent annually.

From 1986 to 1988, the growth in corporate contributions to education leveled off to an average rise of 4 percent annually. That rate was sustained in 1989, according to an estimate by council officials, who said a similar increase was likely for this year.

Corporations "have reached a new high and are holding steadily to it," Mr. Shore said.

Despite the apparent shift in corporate giving to precollegiate educa8tion reflected in the survey, David R. Morgan, the council's director of research, stressed that the K-12 gains were not being made "at the expense of higher education."

"From other sources, it is clear to us that the dollars going to higher education are not dropping in an absolute sense," Mr. Morgan said.

He noted that another survey conducted by the council on the amount of support colleges and universities receive from corporations, foundations, and individuals indicates that total giving to higher education from those sources rose by 5 to 7 percent in 1988-89 over the previous year.

Copies of the annual survey, "Corporate Support of Education 1988," will be available in mid-February from the Council for Aid to Education, 51 Madison Ave., Suite 2200, New York, N.Y. 10010.--ab

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