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DeWitt Wallace Grants Targeted for Catholic Schools

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The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund has made more than $1 million in three-year grants to scholarship funds, teacher-development programs, and other activities at inner-city Catholic schools.

Because the fund does not give directly to sectarian schools, the grants last month totaling $1.275 million were made to four independent agencies in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia.

The agencies in turn raise private contributions to support students and teachers in Catholic schools.

In the three cities, the grants will affect a total of almost 300 elementary and secondary schools with a combined enrollment of more than 90,000 students.

DeWitt Wallace, which makes more than $60 million in grants annually, is committed to supporting programs that benefit disadvantaged and at-risk students, according to the fund's program director, Donna V. Dunlop.

The new foray into funding students at Catholic schools was prompted by research showing parochial schools "do an extra-good job in the population we're committed to,'' Ms. Dunlop said.

Big Shoulders Backed

The Big Shoulders Fund of Chicago received the largest of the grants: $525,000 over three years.

The success of a 1990 pilot grant of $250,000 to Big Shoulders prompted the new, larger grant, DeWitt Wallace officials indicated.

At Big Shoulders, $100,000 of the new grant will be used each year to support up to 115 high-school students with scholarships. Another $50,000 will help provide inservice training to about 25 teachers, Ms. Dunlop said.

In Philadelphia, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools received $300,000 to help provide $85,000 each year for scholarship funds for about 80 to 90 high-school students.

Two New York City agencies also garnered grants.

The Inner-City Scholarship Fund was given $300,000 to help ensure below-cost tuition for students attending inner-city Catholic schools supported by the fund.

The DeWitt Wallace money will serve as a "tremendous help'' to offset the cost of tuition for more than 29,000 students in 79 schools, said Jeanann Morgan, the agency's assistant director.

At Student/Sponsor Partnership, a $150,000 grant will assist a program that matches 589 at-risk high-school students with sponsors, who mentor the students and pay all or part of their tuition at a nonpublic school. The DeWitt Wallace money will help make up the difference between what the sponsor can pay and the cost of tuition, officials explained.

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