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Philanthropy Column

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More large corporations are giving money to precollegiate education, and an increasing number of executives at these firms believe the contributions are having a positive effect, according to a recent poll of Fortune 500 companies.

Thirty-six percent of the 342 companies surveyed contributed to elementary schools this year, compared with only 14 percent in 1990, according to the fourth annual Fortune education poll, which appeared in the business magazine's Nov. 16 issue.

More businesses also reported contributing to high schools; this year, 75 percent of respondents gave money to high schools, up from 58 percent in 1990.

When asked whether corporate contribitions are having an impact on education, 11 percent of the respondents said they have made a "big difference,'' and 50 percent said they have made "a fair amount of difference,'' a slight increase over the figures reported in 1991. Two years ago, only 6 percent said gifts made a big difference and 33 percent said they made a fair amount of difference.

The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund announced on Nov. 10 that it will award $2.77 million to four family-school partnerships.

The fund awarded $689,700 to Aspira, a national Latino youth-development organization, for a series of workshops designed to help Latino parents improve their interaction with school officials and strengthen their children's academic performance.

The National Black Child Development Institute received $736,000 to help 40 single African-American mothers in Washington, D.C., act as advocates for their preschool-aged children, and the National Coalition of Advocates for Students received $650,000 for a program that supports parents, community groups, and school districts in six Asian-American communities.

The fourth group, the National Council of Jewish Women, was awarded $683,000 for a project that helps economically disadvantaged parents prepare their 4- and 5-year-old children for school.

The Merck Family Fund awarded $300,000 last month to the Institute for Educational Inquiry, a nonprofit organization founded last year by the University of Washington professor John I. Goodlad, to conduct research on schooling and education within the broader context of a changing democratic society.

The Seattle-based institute is affiliated with the Center for Educational Renewal, a school-reform network Mr. Goodlad founded in 1985 to examine the role of teacher training and professional development in education reform.

The grant will be used to sponsor conferences, commission research, and bring visiting scholars to the institute.--M.S.

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