Phillies part-owner makes $16.3M education investment

July 17, 2012 12:57:07 PM PDT
A wealthy businessman who is a part-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies is donating $16.3 million toward workforce development programs at the city's struggling school system and three other educational organizations - one of them a nonprofit run by the wife of Mayor Michael Nutter.

Nutter announced the four-year investment from John S. and Leigh Middleton on Tuesday, with money going toward Career and Technology Education in the school district as well as programs at Drexel University, Philadelphia Youth Network and Philadelphia Academies Inc., a nonprofit headed by Lisa Nutter.

"In every great struggle, there comes a tipping point, that critical moment when an infusion of resources - people, effort and assets - is necessary to prevail," John Middleton said. "For the school district, we believe that tipping point is now."

The money will be distributed through the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

"This donation will build the educational infrastructure and create learning and workforce opportunities," the mayor said. "Building a system of great schools and career-oriented programs, we ensure Philadelphia has a 21st-century workforce, ready to compete in the global economy."

The school district will be getting $5.7 million over three years, money that will fund a career and technical education teacher, as well as professional development coaching, curriculum development, technology and other things; it will also fund an additional 400 student spots in the program during the upcoming school year and an additional 800 student spots during the 2013-2014 school year. Over the next five years, city officials said, the funding will allow the enrollment to increase by 6,800 students total, to 12,000.

Philadelphia Academies will receive $2.25 million to fund an expansion that will support 5,000 students in 16 new career academies to be housed in four schools. Those programs will emphasize digital literacy and other workforce skills.

Philadelphia Youth Network is receiving $5 million to support a plan to help with career education for 5,000 workforce development providers. As part of the program, a third party will conduct evaluations of the effectiveness of the city's youth workforce program.

Drexel, a four-year university in west Philadelphia, will be getting $3.3 million, money to be used for efforts that include online and data sharing technology.

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