HISD Apollo 20 Program Receives $6m Pledge From Houston Endowment

The Houston Independent School District is getting a big chunk of private cash to help its Apollo 20 program. As David Pitman reports, the HISD believes it can complete the program to improve under-performing schools without dipping into its general fund.

The three-year, $6 million pledge comes from the Houston Endowment, a private philanthropic organization that supports local non-profit and educational institutions.

HISD's Jason Spencer says the money from the Endowment will go a long way toward connecting sixth and ninth-graders at troubled campuses with daily math tutors.

"What they are doing is agreeing to come into work in these tough schools. They're doing it for the challenge.  These are college-educated fellows who are qualified to do high-end jobs who are kind of taking a Peace Corps-type approach to serving in our schools for a year at a time."

Apollo 20 began last fall at nine middle and high schools.  The district estimates it'll cost $24 million dollars over three years.  Spencer says the district already has $12 million in private pledges.

"We feel like the amount of pledges we've received so far, and the ones we have in the pipeline, that we're on track to cover these programs."

HISD says TAKS passing rates at the program's five middle schools and four high schools were up significantly this year, especially in math.  The district will expand Apollo 20 to include 11 elementary schools in the fall. 


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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...