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Philanthropy Column

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Hoping to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts, nearly two dozen foundations have launched the Boston Funders Group, an alliance of grantmakers interested in public education.

The seeds of the alliance were sown late last fall, when a group of foundation officers met with Boston's new superintendent of schools, Thomas W. Payzant, to discuss his reform agenda. At the close of the meeting, Mr. Payzant asked, "So, how do we keep this discussion going?"

Since then, the funders' group has been gathering monthly.

The alliance's informal membership includes corporate, private, and community foundations, as well as individual philanthropists. Together, the foundations control more than $50 million in annual philanthropic dollars, of which about $5 million goes to the Boston public schools.

For more information, call Walter Palmer at the Harcourt General Charitable Foundation at (617) 278-5450.

The Annenberg Foundation, based in St. Davids, Pa., has announced the latest in a series of grants to arts education: a $4.3 million challenge grant to six regional institutes to show how the arts can boost student academic achievement.

The six institutes are located in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; Denton, Texas; Lincoln, Neb.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Tallahassee, Fla. Together, they make up the National Arts Education Consortium, founded in 1988 to improve the quality of arts education in the United States. The six sites currently work with more than 400 districts, 25 universities, and 60 museums.

The consortium must raise $4.3 million in matching funds. It has already received a $2 million matching grant from the Los Angeles-based Getty Center for Education in the Arts.

The Knight Foundation has awarded a total of $650,000 to six school-college partnerships under its "Excellence in Education" grant program, an effort to strengthen relationships between public schools and higher education. The partnerships will focus on a variety of efforts, from a science-outreach program to developing interdisciplinary curricula.

The Miami-based foundation awarded the three-year grants to Columbia College in Columbia, S.C.; Florida State University in Tallahassee; Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.; Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.; the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks; and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

--Meg Sommerfeld

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