The Washington Parent Group Fund, a local foundation that links parent fund-raising with matching support from private business and law firms, yesterday presented $16,000 in grants to nine D.C. public schools.
Barbara Bush, wife of Vice President George Bush, was on hand to present the checks to Thomson, Birney, Turner, Nichols Avenue, Stanton, Congress Heights, Wilkinson, Terrell, and Smothers elementary schools. City Councilman Wilhemina Rolark attended, as well as representatives from the firms who donated the most money: C&P Telephone, Westinghouse Electric, Pepco and the National Bank of Commerce.
Thomson elementary in Northwest, for example, will receive $1,335 to hire a kindergarten teacher's assistant and to provide instruction in ballet, modern jazz and tap dancing. At Stanton elementary in Southeast, $825 will go to provide assistance to three Ballou High School students who work on improving the reading and math skills of 40 Stanton students.
A total of 57 local and national businesses and law firms donated money on a 2-to-1 basis for every dollar raised by the schools' parents.
The fund is an outgrowth of the Public Education Legal Services Project of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Etta Green Johnson, executive director of the fund.
"The program is designed to increase parental involvement in public school issues," she said. "When the project started three years ago, we found that these parents needed extra money to provide in their schools the type of educational enrichment projects that are typically provided by parent groups in more affluent areas of the city.
"We have heard of PTAs in some parts of the city raising as much as $20,000 a year," Johnson said. "The schools in our project do not have that capacity.