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Foundation Gives High-Performing Poorer Denver Area Schools Cause to Celebrate

Today’s lead story at Ed News Colorado highlights the disparity in private parent and community giving within Denver Public Schools. Reporter Charlie Brennan notes that no school raked in more than the nearly $230,000 at Bromwell Elementary, a school with a low 8 percent study poverty rate. The general findings are no surprise, yet nonetheless disappointing:

At the other end of the poverty – and fund-raising – spectrum is Johnson Elementary in southwest Denver, which reported fewer than $3,000 in private gifts in 2010-11.

If a donation of five or six figures came through the door of the school, where 96 percent of students are low-income, said Principal Robert Beam, “You’d be writing a story about a principal who is dancing in the streets all day long.”

The timing of the story is remarkable. Why? Yesterday substantial checks went out to 14 metro area public schools and 2 public charter management organizations (CMOs) serving high-poverty student populations, with awards totaling $500,000. And they didn’t just go out to schools based on need, but to schools with a proven record of serving their students well:

Award winners were selected based on a variety of factors, including academic performance and growth, percentage of students qualifying for the Federal free and reduced lunch benefit, school culture, leadership, and instructional effectiveness.

So states the media release from the benefactor Foundation For Great Schools, a coalition of five private Colorado foundations, including the Daniels Fund (which also helps support my Education Policy Center friends). When they cite “academic performance and growth,” they aren’t kidding. All 16 recipients earn an A or B from the new Colorado School Grades site:

  • Montview Math and Science Elementary (Aurora)
  • Tollgate Elementary (Aurora)
  • South Elementary (Brighton)
  • Ricardo Flores Magon Academy (Charter School Institute – Westminster)
  • Community Leadership Academy middle school (Charter School Institute – Commerce City)
  • Beach Court Elementary (Denver)
  • Bryant Webster Dual Language K-8 middle school (Denver)
  • Denver School of Science and Technology CMO (Denver)
  • Girls Athletic Leadership School (Denver)
  • Greenwood ECE-8 middle school (Denver)
  • KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy (Denver)
  • West Denver Prep CMO (Denver)
  • Deane Elementary (Jeffco)
  • Stein Elementary (Jeffco)
  • East Elementary (Littleton)
  • Valley View K-8 elementary school (Mapleton)

I haven’t seen any reports indicating increased street-dancing activity taking place near any of the above schools. Yet while various kinds of celebrations may take place at each of those centers of learning, I will study up on the definition of this great word philanthropy. Remember: You can find more information on Colorado schools and the open enrollment process at the fantastic, parent-friendly School Choice for Kids website.