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Elementary and Primary Education
Houston Independent School District
News Release
Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rockwell Donates $150,000 to Support HISD’s Apollo 20 Program

Announcement comes a day before release of study on the program’s first-year impact


The HISD Foundation has received a $150,000 pledge over two years from Rockwell Fund, Inc. in support of HISD’s Apollo 20 school turnaround program.


“The philanthropic community in Houston and across the nation has stepped up to support Apollo 20 because they understand we cannot prosper as a society if we fail to prepare all children for life after high school,” said Paula Harris, president of the HISD Board of Education. “Rockwell Fund, Inc. has our sincere gratitude for joining in this noble effort.”


Apollo 20 is a three-year program launched in the fall of 2010 with the purpose of turning around struggling schools using strategies and best practices from successful charter schools across the nation. Rockwell Fund’s donation brings the total amount of private money contributed to Apollo 20 to $14,370,000 in a little over 12 months.


“We appreciate Rockwell Fund’s investment in HISD’s Apollo 20 Program.  This nationally important study is significant in its potential to help other low-performing school districts around the country,” said James Calaway, chairman of the HISD Foundation and the Apollo Fund Oversight Committee. “It holds the potential to assist the long-term growth of Houston and the state of Texas. We thank Rockwell Fund Inc. for its generous support of this significant education reform effort.”


The program began with five middle schools (Key, Ryan, Dowling, Fondren, and Attucks) and four high schools (Lee, Kashmere, Sharpstown, and Jones).  This academic year the program expanded to 11 elementary schools (Blackshear, Davila, Frost, Highland Heights, Isaacs, Kelso, Robinson, Scarborough, Tinsley, Walnut Bend and Young).


The strategies used in the Apollo 20 program are:


·         Effective teachers in every classroom and an effective principal at every school


·         More instructional time


·         Use of data-driven instruction


·         In-school tutoring


·         A culture of high expectations


Within just one year of its inception, Apollo 20 secondary students have already demonstrated significant academic improvements.  These gains were particularly strong in math, the subject for which all sixth- and ninth-grade students received daily one-hour tutoring sessions from Math Fellows who worked with two students at a time for the entire year. Apollo 20 students also showed significant progress in science and social studies.


The Apollo 20 concept was developed in partnership with renowned Harvard University economist Dr. Roland Fryer and Harvard EdLabs.


Dr. Fryer will be presenting the first-year results from Apollo 20 secondary schools during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, October 6 at 1:30p.m. at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th Street. The meeting will be broadcast live on HISD-TV (Comcast 18) and online at


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 governed by a volunteer board of business, community and philanthropic leaders. The Foundation’s programming is aligned with the district’s five core initiatives: Effective Teacher in Every Classroom; Effective Principal in Every Classroom; Rigorous Instructional Standards & Supports; Data-Driven Accountability; Culture of Trust through Action. For more information about the HISD Foundation please visit


The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 281 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.


For more information, visit the HISD Web site at

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