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Five 'Next Century' Projects Get Final RJR Nabisco Grants

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The RJR Nabisco Foundation has announced it will award a total of $450,000 to five previous winners of its "Next Century Schools'' competition to help them replicate their restructuring programs at other schools in their communities.

The replication grants are likely to be the final grants awarded to the Next Century Schools, a network that currently comprises 42 of the 44 original grant winners.

In 1989, RJR Nabisco launched the $30 million grant competition--believed to be the largest corporate program of cash grants to individual public schools--to encourage schools to redesign themselves into "model schools of the future.'' The effort has been followed closely by educators and policymakers as a test of the efficacy of so-called "bottom up'' school reforms. (See Education Week, June 10, 1992).

Each year from 1990 to 1992, the Washington-based foundation selected 14 or 15 schools from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants to receive grants of up to $750,000 over three years.

The five recipients of the replication grants were selected from a pool of nine 1990 grant winners that had been invited to apply for the new round of awards. Four of the replication-grant winners each received a $100,000 grant; one received $50,000.

Each grant is to be matched with local funding from school district budgets as well as private sources.

The grant winners, named this month, are Davis Elementary School in Gresham, Ore.; Model High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and three North Carolina schools--Park View Elementary School in Mooresville, Rosman Elementary School in Rosman, and Douglas Byrd Elementary School in Fayetteville.

"We've made a lot of discoveries in our original project work and had some wonderful successes,'' Cynthia Boughner, the program facilitator at Model High School in Bloomfield Hills, said last week. "The opportunity that this money provides to disseminate those ideas and have them ripple out in the education community is just great.''

'China Breakers' Conference

Roger Semerad, the president of the RJR Nabisco Foundation, said the foundation would continue to provide guidance and evaluation to schools in the Next Century network for the duration of their grant awards, even though no more grants to individual schools are contemplated.

Next on the foundation's agenda, he noted, is a June "China Breakers'' conference designed to help innovative educators share their expertise. The idea evolved out of the foundation's experiences working with the Next Century grantees, he said.

"We did find that, in every successful program, individual leadership from somewhere in that community made all of the difference in the world,'' Mr. Semerad said.

Two of the 44 Next Century Schools have lost their grants since the program was launched. A proposed mathematics and science magnet school in Washington never got off the ground, and Baltimore's Paul Dunbar High School was dropped recently when "the program floundered badly'' after the principal retired, according to Mr. Semerad.

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