The City of Philadelphia has announced a gift of more than $16.2 million over four years to the Philadelphia school district and other educational groups in the city, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Made through the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the gift from John S. and Leigh Middleton includes $5.7 million to the school district, which is trying to close a $282 million budget shortfall, to hire a career and technical education teacher and provide professional coaching for an additional 6,800 students; $5 million to the Philadelphia Youth Network in support of its efforts to boost college-graduation rates; $2.5 million to Philadelphia Academies to create sixteen career academies in four public schools; and $3.4 million to Drexel University for its Digital On-Ramps program and Center for Strategic Leadership. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, whose wife, Lisa, is president of Philadelphia Academies and played a major role in the discussions that secured the gift, told the Inquirer that in addition to boosting the school district's educational offerings, the gift will help reduce crime and other problems in the city.
John Middleton said the gift symbolized the desire of his family, which made its fortune in tobacco and owns part of the Philadelphia Phillies, to help the disadvantaged and improve the quality of life in Philadelphia. "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," he told the Inquirer. "For the school district, we believe that tipping point is now."