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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2008

Independent Scholarship Fund Gives Bay Area Students an Alternative
More than $2.4 Million Awarded Since 1999


OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 10, 2008—According to the California Department of Education’s recently released Academic Performance Index, nearly two-thirds of all California public K-12 schools fell short of their performance targets in 2008. In addition, recent data reflect a 25 percent dropout rate statewide and an even higher rate of 40 percent in Oakland and West Contra Costa County. With insufficient funding and sub-par performances plaguing Bay Area schools—and a prevailing financial crisis on Wall Street that has deepened state budget uncertainty—many local families are seeking immediate alternatives for their children.

This week, the Independent Scholarship Fund (ISF) confirmed 212 East Bay students would receive need- and merit-based scholarships totaling more than $315,000 for the 2008-2009 school year. Providing up to $1,500 toward the cost of tuition, the ISF—sponsored by the Independent Institute—opens the door to alternatives to California public schools.

“It offers a choice for families in the East Bay who want their children to receive the kind of quality education in a safe environment that has traditionally remained out of reach,” said Mary L.G. Theroux, senior vice president of the Independent Institute.

Each year, K-12 students in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties are encouraged to select a private or parochial school of their choice. This year, 67 schools will be attended with assistance from the ISF, including Northstar School in Hayward, Acts Christian Academy in Oakland, St. David’s Elementary in Richmond, and several others without religious affiliations.

“Some of our most heartfelt requests for support come from the applicants' public school teachers,” said Theroux. “They understand and appreciate that different children have different needs and that it is unreasonable to expect one school system to meet them all. There's no greater impact on an individual’s life and the health of our communities than education, and this program provides underprivileged families the freedom of choice that their more affluent neighbors often take for granted.”

“National data indicate that dollar–for–dollar, private schools are more productive than their public counterparts,” Theroux said. “The well–documented benefits of increased competition between the two reinforce our commitment to improving access to high–quality education for young people in the East Bay. The continued growth of this program will enable more families of modest means to choose the best education for their children.”

With the generous assistance of foundations, community organization, corporations, and individuals, the ISF has awarded $2,414,440 in 1,737 scholarships since 1999. To download an application for the 2009-2010 school year or to contribute to the fund, please see:

http://www.independent.org/students/isf/

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