School Choice & Charters

Philanthropy & Partnerships

April 10, 2002 5 min read
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Mass. School Finally Receives Surprise Bequest

After waiting for five years, Worcester Academy in Massachusetts has received the money from a surprise bequest of $9.5 million from a former student who attended the school nearly 80 years ago.

Jacques C. LeBermuth—a student at the private secondary school in Worcester, 50 miles west of Boston, in the early 1920s—was offered free tuition and board when his family could no longer afford to pay for his education.

Mr. LeBermuth died in December 1996 at the age of 89, but because of delays in clearing the bequest through the Internal Revenue Service, his estate was only recently settled, according to Neil R. Isakson, the school’s director of communications.

Officials at the 570-student boarding and day school were not expecting the bequest when they first learned of Mr. LeBermuth’s generosity in 1997. “It certainly caused a great deal of excitement when we were notified by Mr. LeBermuth’s attorney,” Mr. Isakson said. “We were also a bit bewildered, given that no one knew who this gentlemen was,” he added. It took school officials several days to find information about the practically anonymous former student, he said.

Though Mr. LeBermuth was offered free room, board, and tuition in 1922—which would have amounted to about $1,000—he instead dropped out of the school and went to work at a bank in New York City to help support his mother, who was an opera singer. The annual bill for a seven-day boarding student at the school today is almost $28,000, Mr. Isakson said.

Eventually, Mr. Isakson said, Mr. LeBermuth became a bond trader, and was able to invest $1 million in American Telephone & Telegraph Co. stock, which is how he amassed his fortune. Worcester Academy will use the gift for capital improvements, scholarships, professional development, and faculty salaries.

Aid for Leadership

A school district in Kentucky and one in New York City have received grants from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds for efforts in educational leadership.

The 95,000-student Jefferson County schools in Louisville, Ky., was awarded $1 million, a sum that may be renewable for four years. The district will use the money for such efforts as identifying potential school leaders, providing leadership preparation and mentoring, and establishing new professional performance standards for educational leaders in the district.

A grant of $721,000 to the 41,000-student Community School District 10 in New York’s Bronx borough also is renewable annually for up to four years. That money will go to “implement innovative changes in the recruitment, development, and retention of educational leaders to improve learning for all students,” according to a news release.

The two districts join 10 others across the country that received nearly $9 mil-lion in December as part of the New York City-based philanthropy’s Leadership for Educational Achievement in Districts initiative, which is directed at improving educational leadership. (“Philanthropy Gives Grants Aimed at Leadership,” Jan. 16, 2002.)

Charter Schools

The Goldman Sachs Foundation has donated $1 million to New American Schools for its charter school efforts. The gift, which will help charter schools nationwide get started, will be administered through the new- school-services division of the Alexandria, Va.-based school improvement organization.

The grant “will help build the capacity of local educators, parents, nonprofits, and community groups to take their vision of a school and turn it into reality,” Stephanie Bell-Rose, the president of the New York City- based foundation, said in a press release. New American Schools plans to help new charter schools with start-up assistance, such as developing strategic plans for meeting the schools’ objectives, identifying funding sources, and incorporating special education services into the schools.

Post-Sept. 11 Relief

New York City teachers will be the first recipients of awards from a $10 million pledge the Carnegie Corporation of New York has made to support the metropolitan area following the terrorist attack on Sept. 11.

The philanthropy will give $1.85 million to New York City schools in honor of teachers who helped students both during the attack on the World Trade Center and in the days and months after.

“We recognize that teachers bore the brunt of consoling their students and explaining events on that first day, as well as dealing with the emotional and educational needs of their students in the months since,” said Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation, in a news release.

Of the $1.85 million award, $800,000 will go to build new libraries in two elementary schools in the Bronx. Meanwhile, $600,000 will be given to the superintendents of two community districts in the Bronx who will decide how to spend the money. Stuyvesant High School, the High School of Economics and Finance, and the High School of Leadership and Public Service, which were all temporarily closed following the attack, will each receive $100,000. Brooklyn Technical High School, Norman Thomas High School, and Fashion Industries High School, which housed students from schools that were closed, will each receive $50,000.

Added Commitment

Eli and Edythe Broad, the founders of the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation, have announced that they will commit an additional $300 million to urban education efforts nationwide. That brings their funding up to $400 million, from $100 million when the foundation was started in 1999.Added Commitment: Eli and Edythe Broad, the founders of the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation, have announced that they will commit an additional $300 million to urban education efforts nationwide. That brings their funding up to $400 million, from $100 million when the foundation was started in 1999.

Some of the foundation’s goals are to train educational leaders and redefine traditional roles of school board leaders, administrators, and labor union leaders. Its recent grants include support for Education Week‘s coverage of leadership.

Even though many philanthropies are decreasing their contributions due to the recent economic slowdown, the Broad family “believes it is vital at this point in time to expand their commitment to education,” according to a statement.

Mr. Broad also recently announced a new $500,000 annual award, called the Broad Prize for Urban Education. (“Broad: New Award to Be ‘Nobel’ for Education,” March 20, 2002.)

—Michelle Galley

A version of this article appeared in the April 10, 2002 edition of Education Week as Philanthropy & Partnerships

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