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$25 Million Hewlett Gift To Support S.F. Reforms

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Less than two years ago, when the retired publisher Walter H. Annenberg announced his plans to give $500 million to America's public schools, one of his hopes was that other foundations, corporations, and wealthy individuals would join his philanthropic crusade for education.

Last week, Mr. Annenberg's hopes took a big step forward. The biggest response to date to his challenge arrived in the form of a $25 million gift from William R. Hewlett and the foundation he started, to be used for school-reform efforts in the San Francisco area.

Mr. Hewlett, who founded the Hewlett-Packard Company in 1938 with David Packard, said he will give $10 million from his personal fortune to the new Bay Area School Reform Collaborative, a coalition of educators, foundation, business, and community leaders.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based philanthropy that Mr. Hewlett set up in 1966 with his late wife and their son, contributed $15 million. The foundation's education program shifted its emphasis from higher to K-12 education two years ago.

The Hewlett grant, announced last week at a high school in Millbrae, Calif., was matched immediately with a $25 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation. Together the gifts will form the "Hewlett-Annenberg Challenge Grant" and make up the initial core of support for the San Francisco-area reform project.

The group hopes to raise at least $50 million more in public and private matching funds.

Broad Regional Focus

The Annenberg gift is the fifth multimillion-dollar grant to public schools in a major metropolitan area awarded by the Annenberg Foundation in the past nine months. But it is the first to target a broad region that includes multiple school districts that range from rural to urban.

When Mr. Annenberg first announced his challenge at a White House ceremony in December 1993, he pledged $115 million to three national school-reform groups and said a second wave of grants likely would focus on the nation's nine largest school districts.

To date, four of the nine districts have received gifts ranging from $49.2 million to $53 million: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

San Francisco was not large enough to be included in this initial list of nine.

Undeterred, educators and foundation leaders in the area began a series of meetings last fall at the San Francisco Foundation to discuss how they could unite fragmented local school-reform efforts into an alliance with a common vision--and attract Mr. Annenberg's support.

Even before the collaborative was awarded funding, it had hired an executive director, appointed a board of directors, and raised more than $200,000 to get the effort off the ground.

The next part of the Annenberg Challenge likely to be announced is for a rural school-reform initiative. A proposal for this effort is expected to be submitted next month. (See Education Week, 1/25/95)

Of the remaining five districts in the group of nine:

  • Talks in Detroit are continuing, but no proposal has been submitted.
  • The two Florida districts, Dade and Broward counties, have joined together with Palm Beach County to prepare a draft proposal.
  • Neither Dallas nor Houston has submitted a proposal.

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