The gift is the single largest contribution to a three-year effort undertaken by HISD to transform schools with a history of lower achievement. Gina Luna of the Houston office of JPMorgan Chase says the cities with the best education will lead the nation's economic growth.
"The need is great. Right here in the Houston region, we know that 27,000 students of color dropped out of the class in 2008. Had they graduated, it would have meant a $180 million boost to our local economy."
The Apollo 20 program helps students performing below grade level in math and reading by offering a "double dose" of those subjects. James Calaway, with the HISD Foundation's Apollo Fund Oversight Committee, says business philanthropy can help take up the slack caused by reduced state funding in education.
"It turns our that in order to the things that are necessary to improve our schools and to make sure that our kids go to college, we need these private resources in these difficult times. And without the generous support of the foundations and the corporate community, we simply could not do the work of Apollo 20."
HISD Superintendent Terry Grier says school turnaround is hard work, but the tide can be turned.
"We're celebrating a wonderful partnership between a great corporate citizen — JPMorgan Chase — it is fabulous when you see people in the business world step up to help young people, to ensure that they have a bright tomorrow."