Philanthropy Column

May 29, 1991 2 min read

One of the 15 winners of the rjr Nabisco Foundation’s “Next Century Schools” competition has been accused of using public monies to unfairly benefit the children of employees of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The Integrated Learning Center, a public elementary school in Winston-Salem, N.C., will open in an old Reynolds factory this fall. It will set aside 60 percent of its seats for children of employees of R.J. Reynolds, which provides funding to the rjr Nabisco Foundation.

In addition to its public funds, the school will receive $750,000 from the foundation and $250,000 from the company.

The North Carolina and American civil liberties unions have criticized the project, saying that the school creates a dangerous precedent for granting a better education to the children of major-corporation employees.

The critics have also questioned whether it was merely a coincidence, as the foundation has claimed, that the school won the grant, for which more than 1,600 schools applied.

Foundation officials say a crucial component of the winning proposal was the close connection the students would have with their nearby working parents. The ilc will be about five blocks from Reynolds’s headquarters.

Columbia University has awarded its Lawrence A. Wien Prize in Corporate Philanthropy to Chemical Bank, recognizing the bank for its work in public education, low-income housing, and small-business development.

The national award, first presented in 1982, honors corporations that demonstrate “exemplary concern for social responsibility.”

Among Chemical Bank’s programs in education are the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Competition, which has awarded more than $1.2 million to New York City schools and students, and Join-A-School, a partnership with a Manhattan high school and a Brooklyn junior high school, which includes mentoring, summer jobs, college scholarships, and teacher “mini-grants.”

While large corporations have come in for both praise and criticism for their philanthropic activities in education, small businesses have been seen by many observers as far less interested in education and workforce issues.

According to a study released last week, however, small-business owners cite education as a prime concern and one of the best issues government could tackle to help them succeed.

In a survey of 400 small businesses by the International Business Machines Corporation, education came out second in the concerns small businesses wanted government to address, just behind tax cuts.--jw

A version of this article appeared in the May 29, 1991 edition of Education Week as Philanthropy Column