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Elementary and Primary Education
Brown Foundation Donates $950,000 to Support Apollo 20
News Release
Thursday, May 26, 2011

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier today announced a $950,000 donation from The Brown Foundation, Inc. to the HISD Foundation in support of the Apollo 20 school turnaround program. This is the second such donation from the Brown Foundation, bringing the foundation’s Apollo 20 gift total to $1.9 million.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said, “The Brown Foundation was one of the first to step forward in support of Apollo 20. I am so very appreciative of the foundation’s continuing support for Apollo 20 and the potential it has to make a real difference in the lives of our children.”

James Calaway, Chairman of the HISD Foundation Board of Directors and the Apollo Fund Oversight Committee said, “We are grateful for The Brown Foundation's continued support of this nationally important project as well as the sincere vote of confidence it represents."

Total contributions to the HISD Foundation in support of Apollo 20 now stand at nearly $6 million. The three-year Apollo 20 mission was undertaken by the HISD Board of Education and Superintendent Terry Grier to transform schools that have a history of failing to help all students achieve at the highest levels.

Board President Paula Harris said, “I want to thank The Brown Foundation on behalf of Houston students and their families. The impact goes beyond the nine Apollo schools. Many HISD principals are following Apollo’s progress closely and are already incorporating similar strategies at their schools.”

Although the Apollo 20 program is just now finishing its first school year, there are signs of significant progress. Attendance rates are up, out-of-school suspensions are down, and 93 percent of graduating seniors at the four Apollo 20 high schools have already been accepted into a 2- or 4-year college or university. At Lee High School the percentage of college acceptance is 100 percent and its valedictorian, Brenda Serpas, has been accepted to Harvard University on a full scholarship.

Apollo 20 began with five middle schools (Key, Dowling, Attucks, Ryan, and Fondren) and four high schools (Jones, Kashmere, Lee, and Sharpstown) during the 2010-2011 school year. Apollo 20, developed in partnership with renowned economist Dr. Roland Fryer and Harvard EdLabs, relies on five tenets that his research has shown to be the common features in the nation’s top-performing charter schools:

1.     · Human capital (Effective principal and teachers in every school)

2.     · More instructional time (Longer school year and longer school day)

3.     · Use of data-driven instruction (Complete information about each child’s progress for teachers and parents)

4.     · High-dosage tutoring (In-school math tutoring for all sixth- and ninth-graders plus a double dose of math or reading at all grade levels based on the subject in which individual students are most behind)

5.     · Culture of high expectations for all (Expectation that all students will perform at or above grade level and plan to attend college)

Apollo 20 will expand into 11 elementary schools for the 2011-2012 school year, with the same strategies used on the secondary level, except for the longer school year and school day.

About the Brown Foundation:

The Brown Foundation, Inc. was founded in July 1951 by Herman and Margarett Root Brown and George R. and Alice Pratt Brown. Since its inception it has awarded more than $1.2 billion in grants through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. Of these funds, approximately 80% were awarded within the State of Texas with special emphasis on the City of Houston. The purpose of The Brown Foundation, Inc. is to distribute funds for public charitable purposes, principally for support, encouragement and assistance to education, the arts and community service. The Brown Foundation's current emphasis is in the field of public education at the primary and secondary levels. The Foundation will focus on supporting non-traditional and innovative approaches which are designed to improve public education primarily within the State of Texas. For more information visit

About the HISD Foundation:

The HISD Foundation partners with the district to raise private support, manage funds and provide donor accountability. Funds raised by the HISD Foundation and district leaders provide resources to advance the core initiatives of the district’s Strategic Direction. The Foundation’s fundraising efforts focus on institutional priorities set by the superintendent of schools and board of education. A separate 501 (C) (3) nonprofit, the Foundation is managed by a volunteer board of business, community and philanthropic leaders. The Foundation’s programming is aligned with the district’s five core initiatives: (1)Effective Teacher in Every Classroom; (2) Effective Principal in Every Classroom; (3) Rigorous Instructional Standards & Supports; (4) Data-Driven Accountability; (5) Culture of Trust through Action. For more information about the HISD Foundation please visit

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