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Citibank Pledges $20 Million for School Programs

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Citibank, the largest financial-services company in the country, has announced that it will spend $20 million over the next 10 years to improve precollegiate education.

The grants will go to programs that promote school-based management, the expanded use of technology in the classroom, and innovative instructional programs, and to make improvements in Citibank's partnerships with individual schools.

"I think the idea of making a long-term commitment tells school officials that this is not a fad for us," said Paul M. Ostergard, vice president and director of corporate contributions for Citibank.

He said the purpose of the new program is to ensure that all students in all schools, including the poor and inner-city schools that are among those receiving grants, will be prepared for either college or a job by the time they graduate from high school.

The multi-million-dollar initiative, announced by Citibank officials last week, is one of a handful of large-scale corporate commitments to precollegiate education made during the past year.

In the fall, the Coca-Cola Foundation said it would donate $50 million to schools and other educational institutions over the next 10 years, and the RJR Nabisco Foundation said it would spend $30 million over five years to encourage schools to restructure. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1989.)

During the past year, the General Electric Company has pledged $35 million to aid education, and the International Business Machines Corporation has pledged $25 million.

No 'One Focus'

The new Citibank initiative will effectively double the company's yearly contributions to precollegiate education, from $2 million to $4 million, Mr. Ostergard said.

The program will include a grant of $3 million over the next three years to the Coalition of Essential Schools, founded by the Brown University professor of education Theodore Sizer. The money will be used to create a faculty of teachers from existing coalition schools to train more than 100 instructors in schools joining the coalition.

Over the next five years, Citibank will also provide a total of $7.2 million to 30 schools implementing school-based-management plans. The money will go to 10 schools in Washington, 10 in Chicago, and 5 each in Dade County and Broward County, Fla.

The remaining $10 million, Mr. Ostergard said, will be divided between several projects. Under one, Citibank will give grants to put more technology, including computers, into the schools.

He said the firm will also use this money to boost and consolidate its K-12 programs in cities in which it has offices, including New York, Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and St. Louis.

In these programs, the firm offers money, help with tutoring, adult mentors, and instruction in job skills to several schools in each city.

Instead of promoting partnerships with a number of schools, the firm may concentrate its efforts on developing only "one very good partnership in each city," Mr. Ostergard said, adding that the program may have been "spread a little too thinly."

"There were nice little projects going on all over the place, but there wasn't any one focus," he said.

The arts and human-services organizations Citibank supports will be asked to develop programs to help the schools, he said, and the firm will also encourage universities in these cities to play a greater role in precollegiate education.

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