As part of a broad plan to give $25 million over several years to improve schools serving Irvine Ranch communities, Irvine Co. and the Donald Bren Foundation on Wednesday announced the first distribution of funds.
For the 2001-02 school year, about $2.8 million will go to 52 schools as cash awards of $15,000 each to teachers and principals for outstanding work, and to two other education programs.
Rich Elbaum, a spokesman for Irvine Co., said of the distribution, "This is where the rubber finally meets the road."
Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren is "making a commitment to the future in Irvine Ranch communities," Elbaum said, and believes that education "is the cornerstone of a balanced community."
Irvine Ranch, developed as residential and commercial areas over the years, encompasses Irvine Unified School District and parts of the Tustin, Orange, Newport-Mesa and Laguna Beach unified school districts.
The largest portion of this year's donation, one from the Bren Foundation, is a $1-million grant to a program through which UC Irvine art students will teach in public schools. Irvine Co. is donating $100,000 to an arts program at El Modena High School in Orange for a dance program that will require building a studio and hiring choreographers, and to construct an art gallery.