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Nike Inc., the athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer, has donated $1 million to the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education to create a dropout-prevention grant program for teachers.

The "Just Do It" grants will go to "stimulate teachers to come up with creative grassroots programs to motivate kids to stay in school,'' said Philip Knight, Nike's founder and chief executive officer.

Winners will receive grants of $5,000 to $25,000 over three years. Criteria include programs that are designed and implemented by teachers; that encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning; that challenge teachers to find ways to create supportive environments to foster academic success; and that tie self-esteem activities to academic achievement.

Applications will be available next month with a deadline of April 1. The first winners will be named in June with the projects slated to begin next fall.

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