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Yale Teachers' Institute Receives $2-Million Gift

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The Dewitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund has announced a $2-million gift to the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, one of the nation's oldest and most respected university-public school partnerships.

In accepting the grant, Yale announced that the money will serve as the cornerstone for a campaign to raise $5 million to endow the institute permanently.

The donation is the first major endowment grant to be made to such a collaborative program, according to George V. Grune, the chairman of the Reader's Digest fund. "We hope it encourages additional support for similar programs," he said.

Along with providing financial support, the grant will allow the institute to conduct national conferences, develop programs, and assist other universities in forming similar collaboratives.

The institute, founded in 1978, offers New Haven teachers the opportunity to develop new curricula with the help of Yale faculty members. The teachers meet regularly with university professors over a four-and-a-half-month period each year to write the new programs.

Teachers who participate in a seminar receive a $1,000 stipend and four continuing-education credits that are recognized by the state of Connecticut and are required for continuing professional certification there.

Since the institute began, more than 300 public-school teachers and 70 Yale faculty members have worked together to develop programs for the city schools. Currently, about 80 New Haven teachers are selected for the program each year--a number that accommodates almost all the teachers who propose projects for study, according to James R. Vivian, the institute's director.

"The emphasis is on further preparation of teachers in their subjects," Mr. Vivian said, "and on the practical classroom application of what they study in their seminars."

Yale does not have a separate college or department of education. The faculty members who participate in the institute are "leading members of their own academic departments," Mr. Vivian noted. Professors of law, divinity, geology, American studies, and environmental studies, for example, have worked with New Haven teachers over the years.

To date, the New Haven school district, the university, and outside grants raised by the institute have underwritten the partnership's activities. In addition to announcing that it will seek to raise an endowment for the program, Yale also has pledged not to cut the amount of money it now contributes to the institute, Mr. Vivian said.

"I really do feel that it's a breakthrough for this type of activity to be made a permanent part of a major university," he added.

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