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Rockefeller Gives College Board's Equity Project $2 Million

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The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to the College Board for a series of Saturday academic-enrichment sessions for disadvantaged and minority youths from school districts participating in the board's Equity 2000 college-preparation effort.

The Saturday academies will begin this spring at the six Equity 2000 pilot sites: Fort Worth; Milwaukee; Nashville; Prince George's County, Md.; Providence, R.I.; and San Jose, Calif.

Equity 2000 is a six-year effort by the College Board to increase the college-going rate of students who are minority-group members or economically disadvantaged. The project emphasizes college-preparatory courses in algebra and geometry in the 9th and 10th grades--courses that the College Board sees as "gatekeepers'' to college admission.

The Saturday academies will be conducted on college campuses in the pilot districts. They will stress mathematics, as well as computer skills and "college awareness,'' Verna Allen, the associate director of the Equity 2000 program, said last week.

"The idea is to motivate these students and increase their self-esteem by having them on a college campus,'' she said.

The academy program will serve about 1,200 8th-grade students this spring, and another 1,200 during the fall, Ms. Allen said. By the spring of 1994, the number of students served each semester will double, she added.

'Real Life' Emphasis

The students will meet for four-hour sessions on six Saturdays during a semester, according to the College Board. The courses will be taught by college-level instructors and "master'' public school teachers.

To distinguish the courses from regular school activities, the academies will stress real-life problem-solving and will include field trips, preparation for math and science competitions, and community activities.

Some of the activities will involve the students' parents, Ms. Allen said.

"Several sites will have special programs, such as family math,'' she said. "This increases the awareness of the parents about the college campus as well.''

The Equity 2000 program requires algebra preparation by all 8th-grade students in the six pilot sites, algebra I for all 9th-grade students, and geometry for all 10th graders.

College Board research has indicated that the college-going rate for minority-group members and disadvantaged students increases when such students take algebra and geometry and expect to go to college.

"Because tracking has been so pervasive, there will be students who have not been given the opportunity to become academically prepared to succeed in algebra and geometry,'' Donald M. Stewart, the president of the College Board, said in announcing the grant.

The Saturday academies, he added, will "create an opportunity for traditionally underserved students, many of whom have the potential to enroll and succeed on the college-bound track but are not doing so.''

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