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Three people who work with youngsters were among the 20 people to receive "genius'' awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation last week. They are:

Israel Moiseevich Gelfand, 80, a Russian-born mathematician and biologist who in 1992 founded the Gelfand Outreach Program, which is an effort to promote mathematical excellence among high school students. Mr. Gelfand, who immigrated to the United States in 1990, teaches at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and has been a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

Joseph E. Marshall Jr., 47, the co-founder and executive director of the Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, a youth organization that emphasizes academic achievement and anti-drug, anti-violence programs. Mr. Marshall, a 25-year veteran teacher and administrator in San Francisco, also gives motivational lectures nationwide and serves on the advisory board for the Community Violence Prevention Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Willie Reale, 36, the founder and artistic director of the 52nd Street Project, a theater company for disadvantaged children in New York City. The project brings together economically disadvantaged children and professional actors and playwrights.

The fellows receive grants of $235,000 to $375,000 over five years and are free to spend the awards however they choose. In the 13 years since the program began, the foundation has spent more than $130 million on the effort and has chosen 434 fellows.

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