Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

Distributed December 21, 1994
Contact: Tracie Sweeney

Annenberg Challenge gives $53 million to Los Angeles school reform

LOS ANGELES -- A project that will boost Los Angeles County's public school reform efforts today received $53 million from the Annenberg Challenge, the half-billion-dollar gift to American public education announced last December.

The five-year Challenge grant was given to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Project, a plan which was drafted by a coalition of local education, business and community leaders. The plan centers its efforts on groups or "families" of reform-minded elementary, middle and high schools that emphasize small, stable learning communities where students engage in a broad, intellectually challenging curriculum.

The Hon. Walter H. Annenberg, editor, publisher and former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, designed the Annenberg Challenge to energize and support promising efforts at school reform across the country. President Bill Clinton announced the extraordinary gift at a White House ceremony on Dec. 17, 1993.

The Annenberg Challenge requires that matching funds be raised from other individuals, corporations and foundations. Work is under way in Los Angeles to secure matching grants from private donations and public funds earmarked for school reforms.

Los Angeles is the second major metropolitan area to receive funds; an award of up to $50 million for New York City was announced this past September. In addition, portions of the Annenberg Challenge have been given to national education reform efforts: The New American Schools Development Corp. has received $50 million, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform based at Brown University has received $50 million, and $15 million will be given to the Education Commission of the States in early 1995.

The major portion of the Annenberg Challenge supports teachers, pupils, schools and school systems throughout the country that are making earnest and well-designed efforts to change the way children are educated. Annenberg has asked Brown University President Vartan Gregorian, a long-time friend, to serve as advisor to the Annenberg Foundation and to coordinate the planning process stimulated by the Challenge. Gregorian has agreed to serve in that capacity pro bono.

The Annenberg Challenge insists that the professional, political, labor and business leadership in the regions submitting proposals commit to the substantial financial, political and moral support needed to create a policy environment that clears the way for the redesign of its schools.

It also expects that each school, in collaboration with its immediate community, shape its own program guided by four fundamental ideas:

The gift comes through the Annenberg Foundation, the successor corporation to the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pa., established in 1958 by Annenberg. The current focus of the Foundation is on pre-collegiate education, particularly public school reform.