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$53 Million Annenberg Gift to L.A. Project Announced

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A year after pledging $500 million for the nation's public schools, the philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg has announced that $53 million of that money will support broad school-reform efforts in Los Angeles.

The announcement late last month at a public magnet school in Los Angeles marks Mr. Annenberg's second recent gift to a major metropolitan area. Last September, he gave $25 million to the New York Networks for School Renewal.

Mr. Annenberg announced his $500 million "challenge to the nation" in December 1993 at a White House ceremony and urged government leaders, corporations, and others to join him in support of public schools. At that time, he specified where the first $115 million would go but left the remainder to be decided later.

The latest gift will go to a recently formed coalition, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Project, or LAMP. The California Community Foundation will serve as the fiscal agent.

Like the New York City group, LAMP is a "super alliance" of education, business, and community leaders. Its 19-member board is headed by Virgil Roberts, an entertainment lawyer who has chaired the Los Angeles Educational Partnership.

Other LAMP board members include Mayor Richard Riordan of Los Angeles; Robert Wycoff, the chairman of the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now; Monica Lozano, the editor of La Opinion, a Los Angeles-based Spanish-language daily newspaper; and Wallis Annenberg, the philanthropist's daughter and a vice president of the Annenberg Foundation.

The board recently hired a search firm, to help find an executive director for the group.

The LAMP initiative formally began last April when Vartan Gregorian, the president of Brown University and a longtime adviser to Mr. Annenberg, invited educators to apply for a grant.

Building a Proposal

Other metropolitan areas invited to submit proposals include Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

A $50 million grant to a Chicago alliance is expected this month. A coalition of rural educators also has been encouraged to apply for funding. (See Education Week, 12/14/94.)

LAMP's proposal was spearheaded by the deans of two education schools, Theodore R. Mitchell of the University of California at Los Angeles and Guilbert C. Hentschke of of the University of Southern California.

The group submitted its final draft in December. Its leaders had spent six months soliciting ideas and advice.

The Dec. 21 announcement took place at the 32nd Street School, a public K-10 school with 900 students that functions somewhat like a small independent school. It is closely affiliated with U.S.C.

LAMP's leaders say the school is a model for how to create more personalized learning environments in the city's schools.

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