The Annenberg Challenge was launched in December 1993 at the White House when media mogul Walter Annenberg, former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, announced he would give $500 million to improve public education. The gift, the largest ever for public schools at that time, resulted in a history-making public- private partnership. More than 1,600 businesses, foundations, colleges and individuals added $600 million in matching funds.
* Boosted academic achievement. Elementary students in Annenberg schools in Chicago went from a half-grade behind the city average to a quarter-grade ahead. Students in Boston's Chelsea schools took 13 Advanced Placement tests in 1994 and no one passed. In 2000, its students took 115 AP tests, and 51 earned credit.
Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corp. of New York and an education adviser to Annenberg at the start, says the project was "scrupulously non-partisan."
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