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Details of Annenberg's $50 Million 'Challenge' to N.Y.C.

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The philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg's foundation will award a $25 million challenge grant to support the creation of 50 new, small schools in New York City and will contribute an equal amount to support other education-reform initiatives in the city.

Foundation officials confirmed the pledge late last week.

To receive the money, an alliance of four New York City nonprofit groups will have to scramble over the next three months to raise $2 in matching funds--split evenly between the public and private sectors--for every $1 they receive from the foundation.

If they are successful, the gift could rain as much as $150 million on the nation's largest school system: $75 million for the 50 schools, and $75 million for other projects.

One of the four nonprofits, the Fund for New York City Public Education, will oversee the distribution of the money to schools.

Late last week, Time Warner Inc. said it would commit $5 million to help the alliance meet the private-sector-funding half of the challenge.

In a White House ceremony last December, Mr. Annenberg announced he would contribute $500 million to the nation's public schools. At that time, he awarded $120 million to four national education-reform efforts, and said some of the rest would go to the nation's nine largest school districts.

In June, alliances of educators and community leaders in three of the cities--New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles--submitted proposals to Vartan Gregorian, the president of Brown University, and Theodore R. Sizer, the Brown professor who founded the Coalition of Essential Schools. The two men have been advising Mr. Annenberg since last winter. (See Education Week, June 8, 1994).

Total of 100 New Schools

Last week, at a private meeting of 60 foundation officials and others at the Ford Foundation's headquarters in New York City, Mr. Gregorian announced that the New York group had won the first of these grants.

Although the details were still being ironed out, the information abruptly became public when The New York Times published a front-page story about the pledge. Leaders of the initiative called an impromptu press conference at City Hall the next day to announce the grants.

The network of four nonprofits will oversee the creation of the 50 new schools. That will bring to 100 the number of new, small schools created in the city over the past several years as part of a reform effort.

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