DOZENS OF CORPORATIONS, nine foundations and scores of individuals have contributed over the last three years to support enrichment programs in the D.C. public schools. The Washington Parent Group Fund was established to funnel money, on a matching basis, to PTAs in the less affluent parts of the city so that the kinds of materials and programs provided by parent groups in other parts of the city could be made available to all schools. In October 1981, nine schools in Anacostia received donations; the WPGF now serves 28 schools, reaching more than 15,000 students.
The direct result of the grant program is supplementary school programs in music and the arts, better library facilities and -- of special interest to the youngsters -- more computers and software. But there is a secondary benefit, too. Parent involvement in the schools has grown dramatically. Superintendent Floretta McKenzie points out that PTA membership in the city increased 25 percent last year, while total school enrollment declined. Parents in disadvantaged neighborhoods quite naturally want their children to have the same advantages as others in the school system, and they are willing to work and to raise money to provide them. When the Washington Parent Group Fund matches those dollars, the results are impressive.
When a small program shows quick, positive results, support tends to build. The Ford Foundation and the new Public Education Fund have selected this Washington program as a national model for effective corporate involvement in public education. As the first of a series of new grants, the PEF has agreed to match corporate and foundation support dollar for dollar up to $75,000. Parents, corporations, foundations and individual citizens have created a successful program, and children in the city's poorest neighborhoods are the beneficiaries.