Philanthropy Update

January 29, 2003 4 min read
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Georgia Benefactor Expects Gift To Keep on Giving

He could have followed a well-worn path and given money to his alma mater for a building or a new athletic field. Instead, Thomas Glenn, a banker and business leader in Georgia, last month gave $5 million to teach students at the well-off Westminster Schools how to give their money to worthy causes. The gift from Thomas and Louise Glenn will go toward establishing the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Institute at the pre-K-12 independent school in Atlanta. The institute will expand the school’s existing community-service program and, the Glenns hope, turn students there into savvy philanthropists.

“We have world-class facilities, and we’ve had a good community-service program,” Mr. Glenn said. “But we are trying to move [the program] toward something that is world-class as well.”

Most of the 1,700 students at the school, where tuition runs $13,000 a year, come from affluent families, Mr. Glenn said.

Westminster students “need to be aware of the significant needs in our society,” he continued, “and this program helps them become aware of those needs as well as introducing them to the concept of philanthropy.”

To fulfill terms of the contribution, school officials are considering setting up a yearlong philanthropy course modeled after a summer program at the school.

In the summer course, called Philanthropy 101, students learn about benevolence through an in-class curriculum, field trips to local foundations and nonprofit organizations, and guest speakers.

Twelve students are selected to participate in the program. Each is given a $1,200 stipend, $500 of which they have to give away at the end of the summer, Mr. Glenn said. The students get to keep the other $700, he said.

But philanthropy means more than giving away money, said the former loan officer for Trust Company Bank and a professor at Emory University in Atlanta. It also means fostering goodwill, “including social engagement, civic engagement, and community service,” he said.

Math Aid

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Rodel Community Foundation of Arizona has launched a pilot program to help students in some of the state’s lowest-performing schools better their math skills.

The Math Achievement Club by Rodel, or MAC-RO, supplies students and teachers with supplemental math workbooks that are aligned with the state’s standards and designed to be completed at home over the course of a month.

The idea, according to Carol Grosse Peck, the president of the foundation, is to increase the time students spend on mathematics at home, and the time teachers spend on the subject in the classroom. She pointed to high mobility rates, poverty, and language barriers as hindrances to student achievement.

“If the students don’t know how to add and subtract, it is hard to teach them to multiply and divide,” said Ms. Peck, who was the superintendent of the 15,000-student Alhambra school district in Phoenix for 16 years until becoming the president of the foundation.

Established by brothers Donald V. and William D. Budinger in December, the foundation’s goal is to improve public education in Arizona. The math program was introduced this month.

To receive foundation help, superintendents must agree to visit participating classrooms once a month, principals must agree to observe and critique a math lesson in the participating classrooms once a week, and teachers must agree to teach the materials in the 16-page booklet before it is sent home.

Professional development will also be offered to teachers and principals to support their efforts to teach the math curriculum, Ms. Peck said.

The foundation is piloting the program in 10 of the state’s highest-poverty and lowest-achieving schools. Ms. Peck said she expects the program to double in size by the start of the 2003-04 school year.

Adopting Classrooms

Though most giving to schools happens in large dollar amounts, smaller gifts are having a direct effect on classrooms through the Miami-based Adopt-A-Classroom.

Inspired by the popular Adopt-A-Highway program, James Rosenberg started Adopt-A-Classroom five years ago with seven schools in the Miami-Dade County, Fla., district as a way for donors to supply materials to teachers.

Now, thanks to Mr. Rosenberg’s Web site,, teachers in every state are registered with the organization, and 400 classrooms are being served, according to Rosemary Hegberg, the program director for the nonprofit organization.

To “adopt,” donors select a classroom from the organization’s database, give $500 to Adopt-A-Classroom, and exchange e-mail addresses with the classroom teacher. “We encourage our teachers to develop a relationship with their donors,” said Ms. Hegberg.

Teachers use the money to buy school supplies from a catalog, and the donors are then given invoices from the teachers’ purchases. Some of the requests teachers have posted on the Web site include paint, magnifying glasses, and dry-erase boards.

—Michelle Galley


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