Georgia gets Gates funds to fight dropout rate -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Georgia gets Gates funds to fight dropout rate

February 26, 2003

(Atlanta-AP) -- The effort to curb Georgia's dropout rate with smaller, more personalized high schools has gotten a boost from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Leaders of the foundation created by the Microsoft founder and his wife announced a $6.3 million contribution yesterday. The donation is part of a $31 million grant to nonprofit groups around the country to create a network of 168 smaller high schools to reach 36,000 teens-- especially blacks and Hispanics.

It represents the Gates Foundation's first foray into rural education. Georgia received more than any other state except Massachusetts. The state has one of the nation's highest dropout rates.

A 2001 study found Hispanic students in Georgia are less likely than those anywhere else in the country to graduate on time. Every year, Georgia's senior class is about 40 percent smaller than the freshman class four years earlier.

In Georgia, Communities in Schools -- a dropout prevention group with ties to business -- will open 25 small high schools called Performance Learning Centers over the next three years. Two are already operating- one in Atlanta and another in Lowndes County. Others are planned for Coweta, Clarke, Baldwin, Bulloch, Richmond and Troup counties.

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