Federal File

May 01, 2002 1 min read

In the Neighborhod

Sitting in the cozy library at Washington’s Margaret Amidon Elementary School, Secretary of Education Rod Paige read a poem with a 4th grader to celebrate National Volunteer Week.

A brisk six-block walk from the Department of Education headquarters, Amidon has unique status as the public school closest to the federal education chief’s office. While he was there last week, Mr. Paige lauded the “Everybody Wins! DC” volunteer program, which matches adults with students for weekly reading sessions.

“One person can’t do everything, but one person can do something,” Mr. Paige said of volunteers.

But while Mr. Paige gave praise to the Washington nonprofit program, his agency no longer gives it money.

For at least three years, the group got about $15,000 annually from the department, said Mary Salander, the executive director of Everybody Wins! DC. But in fiscal 2002, with a new administration, that money disappeared from the federal budget.

The national Everybody Wins! program, based in New York City, was awarded a $1 million grant earlier this year through a specific congressional appropriation, or earmark. But Ms. Salander said the Washington chapter would not receive any of that.

Everybody Wins! DC serves 3,600 children in 27 Title I schools and has an annual budget of about $1 million, raised mostly from corporate donations and fund-raisers. Many federal workers volunteer, including more than 50 from the Education Department.

The money came through the Clinton White House’s America Reads program, which no longer exists, said an agency spokeswoman, Kathleen Mynster.

“This was a unique partnership at the time, and it is something that we need to evaluate and explore as we move forward,” she said. Ms. Mynster stressed that Mr. Paige and department workers are still committed to working with students in the program.

—Michelle R. Davis

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2002 edition of Education Week