Education

Philanthropy Update

April 21, 2004 3 min read
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Portland Philanthropist Gives $700,000 Bequest

The late Portland, Ore., philanthropist Janette Drew had a longtime love affair with classroom teaching even though she never taught students.

So it came as little surprise to officials at Portland State University last month when the education school received a $700,000 gift from her estate.

The money, which was added to an endowment Ms. Drew had established in the mid-1990s to pay for teacher scholarships, brought her total contributions to more than $1 million—the largest philanthropic donation in the graduate education school’s history.

“Janette Drew had a deep appreciation for the importance of teachers in the lives of children,” Phyllis Edmundson, the dean of the university’s graduate school of education, said in a statement last month. “She gave generously of her spirit and her resources, taking great joy in following the progress of the Drew Scholars.”

In her youth, Ms. Drew—who died in January 2003 at the age of 94— studied education at Portland State University, but decided not to pursue a career in teaching after she married engineer Sid Drew in 1936.

She continued to believe, however, that good teachers played an essential role in their communities. To encourage teacher development, she established two scholarships in 1993 to help would-be teachers at Portland State University who demonstrated strong leadership skills.

In 1995, she took her philanthropy a step further and established a $100,000 endowment, which she later supplemented in 1998 by donating her house to the university.

The scholarships—which range from $2,500 to $5,000—have had a major impact on graduate students at the school, according to Sandra Wiscarson, the director of development for the graduate school of education.

Recipients received not only financial support, she said, but also a validation of their hard work. "[The scholarship] shows that somebody believed enough to help them,” Ms. Wiscarson said.

Since the scholarship program was started, 55 students have received Drew scholarships, and with the additional money from the estate, the school expects to give 10 to 16 more scholarships, totaling $40,000 a year. To qualify for a Drew scholarship, students must be actively involved in the community, show leadership skills, and have significant financial need.

University officials said Ms. Drew has ensured her legacy with the $700,000 gift.

“She was quite a lady,” Ms. Wiscarson said.

Columbine High Memorial

Five years after the Columbine High School shootings, a 28-member committee of parents, students, and faculty members is still struggling to raise the $3 million needed to complete a permanent public memorial to the victims. Five years after the Columbine High School shootings, a 28-member committee of parents, students, and faculty members is still struggling to raise the $3 million needed to complete a permanent public memorial to the victims.

Plans for the project were released last year, but no date to begin construction has been set.

Committee members said that until enough money has been raised to support the project and establish a maintenance endowment, they will not break ground.

“We’re about 24 percent of the way there,” said Rose Corazza, a spokeswoman for the committee, who hopes to see construction start by the 2004-05 school year.

So far, organizers have raised $300,000 in cash and nearly $350,000 in pledges for construction and landscaping services. Once construction begins, it will take about six months to complete the project, officials estimate.

The memorial design, which will be built in Clement Park—a local recreation area run by the Foothills Park and Recreation District adjacent to the Jefferson County, Colo., school—incorporates native plants into an elaborate garden setting. It will feature marble walls with inscriptions honoring the victims and will also include quotations from students, teachers, and community members.

In the April 20, 1999, shootings, two student gunmen killed 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives. Though much has changed at Columbine High since then, the school community still struggles in some ways with the impact of those events. (“Columbine High: Five Years Later,” April 14, 2004.)

The committee spent three years reviewing design plans and community opinions gathered from a survey of 3,500 people concerning the project.

“We’ve been working with the families [of the victims] and the community to really focus on the design,” Ms. Corazza said.

But she said the design process and the fund-raising were overshadowed by efforts to finish the construction of a new Columbine High library and atrium, which were both completed by 2001.

The memorial plans can be viewed online at www.columbinememorial.org.

—Marianne D. Hurst

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