Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Schools, a $100 Million Gift; Group Has Already Raised $15 Million with Goal of Transforming Duval

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Schools, a $100 Million Gift; Group Has Already Raised $15 Million with Goal of Transforming Duval

Article excerpt

Byline: Topher Sanders

A group of philanthropists is hoping to raise $100 million to help Duval County schools and teachers and to shape the education discussion in Tallahassee.

Jacksonville businessman Gary Chartrand, a member of the State Board of Education, announced the fundraising Tuesday, saying $15 million had already been raised.

The money would go to support the local schools in three areas: to help school administrators and teachers, to work on state policy and boards of governance and to boost the administrative infrastructure at the central offices.

He didn't specify how long it would take to reach those goals.

"It will be good for students, it will be good for business on the First Coast," Chartrand said. "We will need your help."

Chartrand was talking to a room packed at TPC Sawgrass with Jacksonville's most knowledgeable educators and advocates, and most influential and wealthy business leaders. Tuesday's event was called "Champions for Education."

The Community Foundation will house the fund, but recommendations about how the money will be spent will be made by an independent panel created by the foundation. It will include representatives from the school district and the public.

The foundation's board will ultimately approve the spending.

Its president, Nina Waters, said this effort could help attract strong superintendent candidates to Duval because it shows the community's dedication to education. Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals will be leaving at the end of the year.

Chartrand said he was one of the initial donors but wouldn't say how much he gave or who else was involved. He asked those in the room to join in the fundraising effort.

"We haven't invested enough in leadership and human capital in our schools," Chartrand said. "When great leadership works hand in hand with high quality human capital in our schools, the culture will begin to transform itself. …

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