Wells Fargo donates $160,000 to Portland-area school districts to help improve their math and science programs
PORTLAND — October 7, 1998
The Wells Fargo stagecoach has delivered grants totaling $160,000 to help improve the math and science programs at six Portland-area school districts.
The grants were announced today at Multnomah Education Service District's alternative high school during a brief ceremony, attended by Portland Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ben Canada, Multnomah Educational Service District Superintendent Dr. Edward Schmitt, and representatives from two other local school districts.
Wells Fargo donated $90,000 to Portland Public Schools and $70,000 to Multnomah Education Service District. Here are the details on how the funds will improve education in the Portland area:
Portland Public Schools - This school district will use its grant to improve the level of science instruction in all of its 62 elementary and 17 middle schools.
The district is using part of its grant to purchase curriculum kits that teachers can use to teach science in the classroom. Every elementary and middle school in the district will have one to two kits that teachers can share. Teachers will undergo two days of training on how to use the kits.
"Elementary science is provided by generalist teachers who often feel intimidated by the number of topics encompassed by the sciences," said Dr. Canada. "These kits are easy to use and make science understandable. They include exciting examples of hands-on activities. They help students and teachers capture and sustain the curiosity we are all born with."
At the middle school level, the district will use the grant to increase the number of teachers trained in science so they can assist their colleagues within and across grade levels in implementing the Oregon State standards-based curriculum.
More than 280 teachers will attend small, two-day workshops to expand their knowledge of science. The workshops will begin this month and continue through the rest of the school year.
"We not only expect this to result in more opportunities for our students to study science in the lower grade levels, we also expect improved student performance in all grades, and increased enrollment in high school science classes," said Dr. Canada.
Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) - MESD is using its $70,000 grant to improve the quality of math instruction in a number of local school districts.
The district coordinated the grant application on behalf of Sherwood School District, Reynolds School District, North Clackamas School District and the Regional Alternative Schools Consortium. The consortium includes alternative schools in Hillsboro School District and Parkrose District (in Northeast Portland), as well as three independent, community-based, non-profit alternative schools in the Portland area.
Selected teachers from all five districts and the three independent alternative schools participated in an innovative two-part math program recently. The first phase consisted of a workplace experience in which 32 elementary, middle and high school teachers spent five days in local businesses. "Teachers observed how math is being used in today's workplace. They interviewed employees at their assigned work sites to identify projects that involved complex mathematical concepts, as well as real-world problems," said Dr. Schmitt.
The second phase of the program consisted of a five-day seminar. Teachers studied how to translate their experience into instructional programs and classroom activities that fit the new Oregon Content and Performance Standards.
"The intent is to bring the teachers' workplace experience back into the classroom for use during the entire school year. We want our teachers to explain to students how they will be able to apply their math skills in the workplace after they graduate," added Schmitt.
Pre-K Through 12 Education: A Focus for Wells Fargo
The $160,000 is part of the $300,000 that Wells Fargo, for the second consecutive year, has committed to improving school districts in Oregon. Last year the funds were used to support solely districts' math programs (Portland Public Schools received a $68,000 grant in 1997). This year the Department of Education requested that the funds support math and science programs.
"We believe that the first step to success in life for our children is a quality education," said George Passadore of Portland, the executive vice president who oversees Wells Fargo's branches in Oregon. "That is why we have made pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 education a primary focus of our charitable giving.
"The Oregon Department of Education told us that improving math and science instruction is their priority this year. We have made that our priority in Oregon as well," said Passadore. The Wells Fargo Foundation and the Oregon Department of Education jointly review each grant application. The amount of the grant given each school district from the $300,000 pool of funds varies by the district's size and need.
Other grants that have resulted from this program this year include $35,670 to Salem-Keizer Public School District; $20,000 to Crook County School District (Prineville); and $1,850 to Philomath School District.
"The $300,000 is one of the largest single financial commitments Wells Fargo has ever made to public schools," Passadore added. "I'm proud and happy that we're able to do so much to help our local children in Portland."
Through its Charitable Contributions Program, Wells Fargo seeks to invest in the communities in which it does business. In 1996, Wells Fargo made a pledge to donate $300 million during a 10-year period to deserving community organizations in the 10 states in which it does business. Since returning to Oregon in April 1996, Wells Fargo has donated more than $4.7 million to schools and nonprofit groups in this state.
Wells Fargo & Co. is one of the nation's largest bank holding companies with branches throughout Oregon.