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Gates Grant to Create N.Y. Schools for Poor

September 18, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced Wednesday that his foundation will donate $51 million to create 67 small, academically rigorous public high schools in poor neighborhoods.

"This commitment to high schools is critical," Gates said at a news conference. "I think it's the kind of thing that's going to keep this country at the forefront."

The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was announced at Morris High School in the Bronx, which has been made into five small schools with money from an earlier Gates gift.

"The small school really makes learning easier," said 10th-grader Siobhan Pearson, who attends one of the schools.

Among the officials accompanying Gates were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the chief fund-raiser for city schools. The daughter of the late President Kennedy was named to the $1-a-year post last year as part of a bid to boost private-sector help for public education in the city.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the onetime head of the Justice Department's antitrust division who once launched the case to break up Microsoft, thanked Gates for his "monumental commitment."

"We now know that these high schools work," Klein said, saying graduation and college attendance rates have grown dramatically at city schools with revamped curricula.

In an interview earlier Wednesday on NBC-TV's "Today" show, Gates said that he has faith that New York's schools can be an example for other educational systems in the country.

The grant announced Wednesday is part of a wider plan by the city to boost student graduation rates by creating 200 small high schools, replacing large high schools that are struggling. The grant will support the creation of 67 of those schools, which will be developed by seven nonprofit groups and will open between 2004 and 2007.

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