Today, President Obama hosts a meeting at the White House with CEOs to try to raise private cash for K-12 education.
Already, three companies are announcing new pledges totaling $66 million toward education initiatives: $50 million from Bank of America for programs targeting low-income students; $15 million from Microsoft Corp. for research into initiatives such as game-based instruction; and, $1 million from the Nike School Innovation Fund to improve schools in Oregon. (Interestingly, the shoemaker’s innovation fund website isn’t very current, as its top story is from 2010 and touts the leadership skills of ex-Atlanta Public Schools chief Beverly Hall, who is now embroiled in a cheating scandal that has enveloped her former district.)
In addition to the three corporate pledges, America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation Community Impact Fund announced it will raise $50 million to help deal with persistent, high dropout rates. America’s Promise was started by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and now chaired by his wife, Alma J. Powell.
The dollar amounts aren’t as eye-popping as, say, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to the Newark Public Schools in New Jersey. Of course, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, has his own foundation, which invests heavily in education. But cash-strapped states and school districts will surely appreciate any extra money they can find.
It’s also unclear whether these companies would have made these donations anyway. If you’ll remember, the Education Department last year helped organize an announcement from a coalition of philanthropic organizations in which they said they planned to donate $506 million toward education last year. Except little of that was new money specifically tied to that announcement. UPDATE, 12:57 p.m.: I’m told that these are all new pledges, made specifically in conjunction with today’s meeting with the president.
According to the White House, the meeting this afternoon will include business leaders, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, and the Powells. They will “discuss what the business community can do to ensure we have a skilled, educated and competitive U.S. workforce.”
Other companies that will be represented at the meeting include: Intel, Time Warner, America Online, United Way Worldwide, Accenture, ING, Fidelity Personal Investments, State Farm, AT&T, Raytheon, Target, and Discovery Communications.