Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

Distributed December 17, 1993
Contact: Mark Nickel

A Half-Billion-Dollar Challenge to the Nation
Annenberg Challenge Will Support and Energize National Efforts To Redesign and Improve Schools

WASHINGTON -- In a White House ceremony today, President Bill Clinton announced the largest single gift ever made to American public education: a half-billion-dollar, five-year challenge to the nation designed to energize and support promising efforts at school reform throughout the country.

The gift, made by the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg, former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, extends an opportunity and a challenge to everyone engaged in the serious work of improving the performance of the nation's schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. It is a challenge to teachers, administrators, students and parents, to colleges and universities that are working for the cause of school reform, and to federal, state and local governments, whose dedicated support is essential to the success of the reform enterprise. The Annenberg Challenge requires that additional funds be raised from other individuals, corporations and foundations on a matching basis.

"This extraordinary act of generosity and civic concern is a wonderful Christmas present to America's children and a reaffirmation of the importance of public education," President Clinton said. "We don't have a person to waste in this country. If we are to compete and win in the world economy, we have to increase the educational ability of all Americans to ensure that all of our people are capable of learning over the course of their lifetimes. Mr. Annenberg's gift makes us stronger as a nation, and for that we owe him a large debt of gratitude."

The Annenberg Challenge is intended to challenge the nation on at least three levels:

The Annenberg Challenge will have an immediate impact on school reform by dramatically advancing the work of two major national organizations already engaged in school redesign. The New American Schools Development Corp. (NASDC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization endorsed by the Bush and Clinton administrations, will receive $50 million in honor of its chairman, David Kearns. The gift, together with more than $50 million NASDC has raised from private sources, will ensure completion of its school design and development project within 18 months.

The National Institute for School Reform at Brown University, renamed today as the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, also will receive a $50-million endowment to continue and expand its school-level work with thousands of students, teachers, schools and school systems nationwide. A major aim of the Institute is building alliances among reform projects, including the 700-school Coalition of Essential Schools, a decade-long project supported by more than $50 million in corporate, foundation and individual grants. The Institute also will provide a continuing forum for public discussion of issues related to learning, teaching and school reform.

The Annenberg Institute will be governed by a Board of Overseers. Theodore R. Sizer, the Walter H. Annenberg Distinguished Professor at Brown University, will serve as the Institute's executive director. Sizer founded the Coalition of Essential Schools and will continue as its chairman.

The major portion of the Annenberg Challenge--$400 million--will support teachers, pupils, schools and school systems throughout the country that are making earnest and well-designed efforts to change the way children are educated, and to colleges, universities and other agencies that are cooperating in the task. Ambassador Annenberg has asked Brown University President Vartan Gregorian, a long-time friend, to serve as advisor to the Annenberg Foundation and to coordinate the various programs and initiatives supported by the Annenberg Challenge. Gregorian has agreed to serve in that capacity on a pro bono basis.

Early in 1995, the Annenberg Challenge will commit $15 million to the Education Commission of the States (ECS), a nonprofit, nationwide agency created in 1965 by the governments of all 50 states and four U.S. territories. ECS, in association with NASDC and the Annenberg Institute, will work with governors in disseminating the NASDC and other proven school designs throughout all states and territories.

Another essential objective of the Annenberg Challenge is to forge an alliance of colleges and universities toward development of an electronic library so that elementary and secondary schools will have universal access to the literary, artistic, historic and cultural texts of our heritage. The electronic library will bridge the gap between poor and rich schools.

"The generous gift by Ambassador Annenberg to American public education is a sure sign that the school reform movement is going in the right direction. It will enable us to pick up the pace dramatically in our continuing efforts to create national standards of excellence ... to raise the bar academically ... and, once and for all, end this continuing conspiracy of low expectations," said Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. "I especially appreciate his challenge to jump start American education into the Information Age by including imaginative projects in information technology."

Details of how the $400 million will be allocated over the next five years will be developed no later than June 1994 and presented to the Annenberg Foundation. The Annenberg National Institute will ensure that projects are consistent with the spirit of the Annenberg Challenge, which focuses squarely on action with and on behalf of teachers, students and schools. A current framework for this action plan includes:

The New American Schools Development Corporation

The New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC), established July 8, 1991, was formed by American corporate and foundation leaders in response to former President Bush's call for national education reform.

A private, bipartisan, nonprofit organization, NASDC's mission is to support the design and creation of high-performance schools that will enable all students to achieve high standards and graduate with the academic and technical skills necessary for success in the 21st century. NASDC is led by David T. Kearns, former deputy secretary of education and former chief executive officer of the Xerox Corporation. Its board of directors reflects the leadership and strength of the corporate community.

Nine design teams are currently supported by NASDC. The members of these teams combine the talent, energy and vision of some of today's most creative thinkers in education, business, science and the humanities. NASDC and the work of its design teams have earned the endorsement and support of both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

In the fall of 1991, NASDC issued an open call for ideas for reinventing America's schools, a call which brought 686 proposals. In July 1992, after an intensive selection process, NASDC awarded one-year design and development contracts to 11 teams. One year later, NASDC announced that nine of those 11 teams would receive funding for initial implementation of their designs. The design teams are currently working with 140 schools in 19 states.

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform

The Annenberg Institute, established at Brown University in October 1993 as the National Institute for School Reform, builds on the 10-year national experience of the Coalition of Essential Schools, one of the nation's most extensive and best-known school reform organizations. Its objective, by means of a wide range of alliances with kindred efforts, is to reestablish a broad range of public schools across the country from which students will graduate with demonstrated competence and high achievement. Specifically, The Annenberg Institute will:

The Annenberg Institute places a premium on creating conditions which will nurture, protect and support schools as they undertake the difficult work of school reform. Its strategy assumes that schools cannot reform themselves in a vacuum, that they require a context of wise public policy and the coordinated protection, financial assistance and professional support of the institutions that surround them. The Institute focuses on the neighborhood level, where children and their teachers and parents live and work.

Additional information will be available to the public from:

New American Schools Development Corp.
1000 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 2710
Arlington, Va. 22209

Annenberg National Institute for School Reform
Brown University
Box 1969
Providence, RI 02912

Related documents:

93-075a Overview of the Annenberg Challenge
93-075b Components of the Annenberg Challenge
93-075c Overview of the Annenberg Institute
93-075d Statement by Ambassador Annenberg
93-075e Biographical information on Walter H. Annenberg
93-075f Statement by Theodore Sizer
93-075g Statement by Vartan Gregorian
93-075h Profiles of selected schools involved in redesign

Statement by David Kearns and Overview of NASDC
History and description of the Coalition of Essential Schools