Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Communities March to Beat of Volunteer Summit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Communities March to Beat of Volunteer Summit

Article excerpt

People keep marching into Lisa Failla's New York office carrying their old violins, piccolos, and tubas.

Ms. Failla conducts a campaign by VH1, the cable music channel, to bring 1 million additional musical instruments to elementary schools in the next five years. Since the drive started this spring, it has struck a chord, and the donations keep rolling in.

VH1's effort is part of a growing response to the President's Summit for America's Future held last April in Philadelphia. At the gathering, President Clinton, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and former presidents called on communities to help youths at risk from poverty, crime, and other social ills.

And while progress may not have moved along as fast as many would have liked, the summit's agenda is beginning to gain momentum as the school year begins. More and more corporations are offering programs to support America's youths, and communities nationwide are planning local versions of the summit to bring its goals to the grass-roots level.

"We are now slowly beginning to reap what came out of Philadelphia," says Jeff Wender, spokesman for America's Promise, a nonprofit group chaired by General Powell.

Texas is holding a statewide summit at the end of this month, and Kentucky, Massachusetts, Utah, and West Virginia have summits scheduled in October. By the end of next year, 140 communities plan to host similar events.

Some of these local conferences have already produced results. After Virginia's meeting this summer, community groups in Charlottesville, decided to collect 6,000 books so every kindergartner and first-grader in the city could have their own book.

Many corporations have also started programs on their own. The Fleet Financial Group and United Way of Massachusetts Bay opened a tutoring center two months ago in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Fleet has committed $6 million toward opening 24 more centers by 2000 as well.

Other examples include:

* NationsBank opened 25 after-school centers where children can get one-on-one tutoring and learn computer skills.

* Walt Disney Co. has enlisted 139 of its retail stores to provide mentors to Boys and Girls Clubs. …

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