Leonore Annenberg Funds at Penn Bestow Nearly $2.7 Million in Grants for 10 Schools, 5 Students, 10 Artists

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Media Contact:Joseph J. Diorio | jdiorio@asc.upenn.edu | 215-746-1798April 11, 2012

Philadelphia, PA –The Leonore Annenberg Scholarship and School Funds, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, announces the award of nearly $2.7 million to a combined total of 25 elementary schools, artists, and high school students.

The funds will support an artist’s craft, a school’s needs for its students, and will pay the total cost of college for five deserving high school students.

Structured in three separate program funds – The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund in the Performing and Visual Arts, the Leonore Annenberg College Scholarship Fund, and the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children – the grants target those poised to become the cultural and community leaders of the next generation and also support elementary school students in need of essential educational resources such as library books, computers and software, arts programming, and playground equipment.  The grants are named in honor of the late Leonore Annenberg, Chief of Protocol in the administration of President Ronald Reagan and wife of the late Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg. Mrs. Annenberg established the grants to support her lifelong commitment to public service, education, and the arts.

The grants have been described by recipients as life-changing. Consider:

· At age 13 and standing only five-feet, two-inches tall, Misty Copeland (2008 performing arts fund recipient) was considered too old and the wrong size for a career in ballet.  Today she is a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.

· Saddled with a difficult home situation and fighting cancer, the future for Karina Melendez (2010 scholarship recipient) looked bleak.  Today she is healthy and a student at Columbia University.

· Music programs at elementary schools are seemingly always in danger of budget cuts, but music education thrives at Bruce Elementary School in Houston (2008 school fund recipient) and have even grown into a summer music arts program.

“I hope to live up to the ideals that Mrs. Annenberg stood for, and one day to be in a position to help others who are trying to achieve the American Dream,” said Camilla Diaz, a 2009 recipient of the scholarship fund, now a student at Wellesley College.

“Not only will I continue to reap the benefits of this wonderful period in my life for years to come, but I will also do my absolute best to inspire other people who are coming behind me,” said actor André Holland, a 2008 recipient of the performing arts fellowship fund.

Recipients of this year’s Leonore Annenberg Fellowships in the Performing and Visual Arts, whose combined grants total nearly $1 million, include:
·         Tenor Paul Appleby, sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera (Lindemann Young Artist Development Program).
·         Actor Eric Berryman, sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.
·         Actor Austin Durant, sponsored by Lincoln Center Theater.
·         Vocalist Devon Guthrie, sponsored by The Julliard School.
·         Pianist Sullivan Fortner, Jr., sponsored by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
·         Baritone Alex Lawrence, sponsored by Glimmerglass Opera (Cooperstown, NY).
·         Ballet dancer Jeraldine May Mendoza, sponsored by the Joffrey Ballet.
·         Actor Bryce Pinkham, sponsored by the Yale School of Drama.
·         Violinist Michelle Ross, sponsored by the Perlman Music Program.
·         Ballet dancer Eric Tamm, sponsored by the American Ballet Theatre.

Recipients of the four-year college scholarships, valued at approximately $250,000 per scholar, are:
·         Natalie Antunez, a junior at Hialeah Senior High School in Hialeah, Fla.
·         Johana Barxha, a junior at J.R. Masterman High School in Philadelphia.
·         Spencer Dunleavy, a junior at J.R. Masterman High School in Philadelphia.
·         Chelsea Jerome, a junior at Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, Vt.
·         Ambar Peralta, a junior at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, in New York.

Recipients of the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children grants, totaling over $700,000, include:
·         Collins Elementary School in Houston to purchase books and literacy focused technology.
·         Harris Academy in Houston to purchase books and technology for a literacy intervention lab project.
·         PS 111M: The Adolph S. Ochs School in New YorkCity to implement an instructional theater program for students and professional development project for faculty.
·         Leila B. Yancy Elementary School in Henderson, N.C. to purchase computers for classrooms and playground equipment for a fitness program.
·         Pinkston Street School in Henderson, N.C. to significantly enlarge and upgrade the school playground.
·         Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., to improve the school playground, and construct a science lab.
·         Clifton Hills Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tenn. to purchase classroom and library technology.
·         Arcola Lake Elementary in Miami to support reading projects.
·         Dr. Robert B. Ingram Elementary School in Opa-Locka, Fla. to implement a school-wide program focused on science and math literacy.
·         Nathan B. Young Elementary in Opa-Locka, Fla. to support interactive science and math programs.

“We are delighted to support these students, artists, and schools,” said Gail Levin, Ph.D., Director of the Leonore Annenberg Scholarship and School Funds.  “These grants help young scholars go out and change the world, help talented young artists launch successful and enduring careers, and enable underserved students in elementary schools experience the joys of learning.”

The three Leonore Annenberg Funds collaborate with educational and arts organizations to identify potential award recipients.  The Funds do not accept unsolicited requests for support.    Visit www.leonoreannenbergscholarships.org for more information.