National Geographic : 1992 Mar
THE PRESIDENT'S REPORT ON THE Education Foundation A Million Ways to Boost Geography Education <" here is great freedom in the Study of geography," says sixth-grade teacher Santo Nicotera of Denver, Colorado. "Kids enjoy its open-endedness. You can go as deeply into people, their cultures, and locations as you want. And in the end, you see your self through the eyes of others." In his Lake Middle School class room (above), Nicotera shows his students how to use population tables, square mileage charts, and hand-held calculators to determine population density of nations in the Western Hemisphere. Now Nicotera and other geogra phy teachers in his state can look forward to new resources to draw on, thanks to visionary foundations and companies that have, along with your Society, pledged one million dollars to establish the Colorado Geography Education Fund. Our goal is to see similar funds created in every state of the union. In 1990 the Society, as part of its mission to improve geography awareness among U. S . students, committed up to $500,000 to create an education endowment in Colo rado. Only one string was attached: An equal amount was to be contrib uted by local foundations, corpora tions, and governments. The money would be invested and the proceeds used to pay for Colorado geography programs in perpetuity. Colorado's response to the chal lenge was astounding. The full sum in matching funds was raised, with a lead gift from the Gates Founda tion and major contributions from the El Pomar Foundation, the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, the state of Colorado, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, and Total Petroleum, Inc. The endowment will initially generate an estimated $50,000 a year, with larger yields in the future. "The study of geography is essen tial for every student in the United States," says F. Charles Froelicher, executive director of the Gates Foundation. "There is no choice." The Colorado fund is the second to be established, the first being Mississippi's, which was endowed in 1989 with a lead gift from the Phil Hardin Foundation. With funding in place, it's now up to Mississippi educators to spend it. Proposals are being considered by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation's Board of Trustees, working closely with an advisory committee of individuals from across the state. Proposals for the Colorado fund will be sought later this year. Momentum for other geography education funds is snowballing. Texas and Oklahoma have begun raising money, and more states may soon follow. The Society is prepared to match up to $500,000 in every state that has an exemplary geogra phy program. When one in seven adult Ameri cans cannot find the United States on a map, it is time to reverse the shameful slide of geography educa tion. Of course, money can't buy people like Santo Nicotera. But with our financial and moral support, we can help them make a difference. .ck A She ^ THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY EDUCATIONFOUNDATIONWAS ESTABLISHEDTO RAISE AND DISTRIBUTEFUNDS FOR EDUCATIONALAND SCIENTIFICPROGRAMS.