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Foundation pledges $20M to Idaho education

BOISE - The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced today that it’ll put up to $20 million into a big new push to try to get Idaho kids to go on to higher education after high school.

That’s a goal that was put front and center by Gov. Butch Otter and a new Education Alliance last week, but that new strategy lacked any funding.

Here’s what the Albertson Foundation is planning:

- $11 million in targeted, statewide scholarships “to help Idaho improve college opportunities and increase post-secondary participation and completion”;

- $6 million to the Idaho Education Network to “increase access to relevant data and increase equal educational opportunities to Idaho stakeholders statewide”; and

- Up to $3 million for an awareness campaign about opportunities beyond high school and for “KnowHow2Go Idaho,” a “support and guidance program that helps turn college dreams into action-oriented goals.”

The foundation’s initiative was praised today by Otter, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and state Board of Education President Paul Agidius.

“To be successful in the 21st century, students need some form of postsecondary education, whether it is through vocational education, community college or a four-year college or university,” Luna said. “I applaud the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation for taking this step to invest in the future of education in Idaho.

Though Idaho long has ranked high in the rate of its students graduating from high school, it’s ranked very low compared to other states on how many go on to continue their education after that. Idaho ranks 43rd in the nation for students going on to complete a degree, the foundation said.

Already, commercials are airing on TV in Idaho encouraging students to continue their education, as part of the foundation’s initiative. Billboards have gone up, and radio ads are airing.

Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the foundation, said the initiative “combines a thought-provoking messaging and advertising campaign that we hope will capture the attention of students, parents, government, business and other important stakeholders. We are committed to raising awareness and, even more importantly, to converting that awareness into action. We need to better prepare and provide opportunities for Idaho’s kids to GO ON - go on to high-quality jobs; go on to technical training; go on to post-secondary institutions - if we want them to GO ON to a better life.”

The Albertson Foundation is a private family foundation formed by the founders of the Albertson’s grocery chain, dedicated to improving education in Idaho.

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