Federal Federal File

We Are the World

By Alyson Klein — May 16, 2006 1 min read
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At a time when the region hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is clamoring for more aid from the federal government, foreign countries from across the globe have donated some $126 million to the United States for hurricane recovery, and some of it is being used to help rebuild K-12 schools in the Gulf Coast region. Even more has been pledged.

The Department of State gave about $66 million of the foreign aid to the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency and sent about $60.4 million to the Department of Education, which will distribute the money to schools and colleges that suffered the most hurricane damage, said Hudson LaForce, the Education Department’s deputy assistant secretary for planning.

“Schools need help rebuilding classrooms and libraries, buying books, and paying teacher salaries,” he said.

The Education Department is reviewing grant applications from states and colleges and will award the money as soon as possible, said Valerie L. Smith, a department spokeswoman.

The State Department did not rank the foreign donations by amount, but it appears that the $100 million each promised by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is among the top pledges. Even countries hit by the late 2004 tsunami pledged aid, including Sri Lanka, which gave $25,000 to the American Red Cross.

Some governments donated directly to educational institutions, particularly to universities. The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar pledged $17.5 million to help rebuild Xavier University, a historically black institution in New Orleans. About $5 million of the gift to Xavier will go toward scholarships for students affected by the hurricanes.

“It’s going to allow us to help those students to finish their educations,” university President Norman C. Francis said in a statement last month. “That’s important because Xavier is the No. 1 producer of African-American graduates in the natural sciences, and those students then go on to get admitted to medical school.”

Some international organizations also made donations. The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, contributed enough emergency classroom-supply kits for 18,000 students.

Those kits, called “school-in-a-box,” contain supplies both for students, such as safety scissors, and for their teachers, including a teaching clock.

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