WASHINGTON (Oct. 25, 2007)–The National Geographic Society’s Education Foundation will distribute $2.67 million to state-based Geography Alliances across the country through grant commitments announced today. Alliances work to improve student achievement by providing professional development for teachers in content knowledge and classroom strategies. More than 15,000 teachers across the country will participate in Alliance-led teacher trainings during the 2007-2008 school year.
Key grant commitments made by the Foundation’s board include:
-$250,000 for the California Geographic Alliance. The Alliance will raise public awareness of the importance of geographic literacy through projects such as the “Digital Interactive California Atlas,” an online tool that engages students in historical, cultural and physical geography via animation and interactive mapping features. Other planned events include family geography nights, geography olympiads, citizenship days and work with Student World Affairs Councils. A special emphasis will be placed on providing leadership training for teachers throughout the state.
-$150,000 to support the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education. The Alliance will focus on reaching underserved areas of Texas through teacher training events and a Summer Academy for Minority Scholars.
-$61,329 for the Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education to support a broad range of professional development, public awareness and curriculum development programs. Among its planned workshops are “The Geography of Piracy,” including GeoCaching (treasure maps) for elementary teachers and a workshop on environmental sustainability. The Alliance will expand its extensive Web site that hosts several virtual tours of Minnesota and offers more than 1,500 classroom lessons that can be sorted by standard, grade level, key word or region.
“Young people need to be geographically literate in order to understand and care about our planet,” said National Geographic Education Foundation Director of Grantmaking Christopher Shearer. “These programs reflect our commitment to prepare teachers and students for an increasingly interconnected world.”
Since 1986 National Geographic has built a national Alliance network of K-12 teachers, university professors, school administrators and others dedicated to improving geography education at local, state and national levels. In addition to awarding grants for Alliance activities, the Society hosts national-level teacher training workshops at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
As a result of this work, geography standards are now in place at the national level and in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition, the College Board now offers an Advanced Placement Human Geography course, and the federal government regularly assesses student achievement through a National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) survey in geography.
Shearer pledged that the Foundation will continue pushing to make geography an integral part of national, state and local curricula so that each new generation can become geographically literate.
In addition to annual grantmaking, the Society offers each state a challenge grant program to create permanent endowments to provide funding for geography education. National Geographic will match dollar-for-dollar all local donations of up to $500,000 to create a $1 million fund. Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Canada have established such funds. The grants announced by the Foundation include payouts from these endowments as well as funds for states without endowments and supplemental funds for large-population states.
Since it was established in 1985, the Education Foundation has issued 1,912 grants totaling more than $75 million to assist states and educational institutions in offering geography education programs.