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VOL. 113 | NO. 24 | Friday, February 5, 1999

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By STACEY PETSCHAUER Less is more A smaller version of a International Paper grant program will bring more resources to Memphis City Schools By STACEY PETSCHAUER The Daily News Programs that succeed in small towns such as Camden and Pine Bluff, Ark., dont always work in cities such as Memphis or Cincinnati. However, International Paper believes whittling down one of its grant programs will make it just as successful in urban communities as it has been in rural ones. IP has offered comprehensive grant programs to school districts where it has facilities since 1981. Until now, these wide-scale school district projects, part of the International Paper Foundations EDCORE (Education and Community Resources) program, were available only in small, rural areas. But, through an initiative being piloted in Memphis City Schools, larger urban communities soon should be eligible for IP Foundation funds. International Paper Foundation and Memphis City Schools are teaming up on the initiative, called the Teachers and International Paper Partnership, or TIPP, grant program. The partnership will provide $75,000 to Memphis City Schools each year for the next three years. The TIPP program will be modeled after the EDCORE program, which operates in 52 communities across the nation, said Karen Kitzmiller, communications specialist with IP in Memphis. The program will enable city school teachers to receive funding for classroom projects beginning in the 1999-2000 school year. "EDCORE has been very, very successful, and weve grown by leaps and bounds, even in the past couple of years," Kitzmiller said. "The EDCORE program is a close partnership. Our facilities work very closely with these school districts. They help them do the grant. They hold grant workshops and that sort of thing to improve the grant writing techniques of the teachers who are doing the applying." IP has strong relationships with the communities that participate in EDCORE, she said. "Its worked really well in our smaller towns," Kitzmiller said. "But, IP also exists in these larger cities. "We have Memphis. We have a good presence in Cincinnati. We have a presence in Chicago and Dallas. So the next issue is, How do we deal with these larger cities?" Memphis City Schools is one of the 20 largest school districts in the country, and with the annexation of Hickory Hill, the district will be even bigger next school year. "Thats really just too large to participate in EDCORE. So, we tried to figure out what we could do with Memphis, and the TIPP program is kind of a mini-EDCORE program that we are beginning with Memphis City Schools," Kitzmiller said. For the first year of the TIPP program, Memphis schools will focus on projects geared to improving students reading, math and science skills, said Mary Korff, interim grant writer with Memphis City Schools. A tentative schedule requires that the first round of teacher grant applications be due by the end of April with winners announced in June. TIPP projects will begin implementation in city schools this fall. Grant proposals will be written by teachers for specific classroom projects in two priority areas: integrating technology in the teaching of science and mathematics, and reading. An example of the type of curriculum the program will encourage is a project through which students would form a "corporation." They would develop budgets, buy materials, determine a project, set market prices, advertise and sell a product. Math, science, literacy, technology and several other types of skills would be developed through such a project. The projects the grants will create will provide opportunities for students that currently are not available, Korff said. "I think its a great opportunity for teachers to be able to obtain grant funds that will directly impact their classrooms," she said. "Often times, we have a lot of foundations that are larger corporations not located in Memphis, but this will give teachers a real, strong likelihood of writing a proposal and coming up with some innovative, creative ways to do things differently within their classrooms. "And, it would stand a much better chance of funding than applying to national types of foundations," she said. The TIPP program was set up to encourage teachers to work as a team to implement these projects. If teachers collaborate on a TIPP proposal, they stand a better chance of receiving a grant, plus good project ideas will be spread throughout the school district, Korff said. Funding for team projects will be granted at a maximum of $3,000 per project, while individual projects will be capped at $700. Complete grant project proposals will include needs assessments, project descriptions, project timelines, professional development plans and evaluations. The professional development portion of the grant proposal ensures the teacher receiving the grant not only has an idea for a classroom project but the knowledge and ability to carry out the idea. "I think its very exciting," Korff said. "It gives the teachers a grant competition through which they can really work on their grant-writing skills. It also gives them a good probability for success." International Paper emphasizes teacher training as part of the EDCORE and TIPP programs, Kitzmiller said. "They get to go through some training," she said. "Every year we have an EDCORE conference where educators and IP people from the field can come and share best practices and talk to each other about the different programs going on out there. "If a program made possible through a grant has worked in one school district, it might work in another. So, its a great opportunity for people to share ideas with each other." Sharing ideas is the concept behind offering extra incentives, such as larger grants and increased priority for receiving them, if teachers from one school or different schools work as a team on a project. And, ideas will be shared among all schools in the district through the programs evaluation process after the first round of projects is completed. The TIPP program marks the first large-scale program International Paper has collaborated on with Memphis City Schools. "International Paper has funded some individual school proposals in the past from their local grant activities, but from a district-wide perspective, I think this is the first time weve had such a partnership," Korff said. "If the program works well in Memphis, International Paper plans to expand TIPP to other cities." Memphis City Schools is pleased to have been selected for the first run of the program, Korff said. "It offers Memphis a great opportunity," she said. "What they were looking for is to develop something they could implement in the other large cities where they have a presence. "So, Memphis was singled out in a very complementary way. Were going to try it here and see how it goes."
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