2 Celebrities That Championed P-20 Education in 2015

In today’s educational landscape, there are many celebrities who championed the field of education through their work and philanthropy. I was impressed by the philanthropic acts of certain celebrities in 2015 and wanted to take a few minutes to highlight how they championed P-20 education this year.

Taylor Swift donates 25,000 books to NC schools. Singer Taylor Swift partnered with Scholastic to donate 25,000 books to New York City schools in need of additional resources, according to Education World.

In order to encourage students to take part in independent reading, 25 schools in NYC will receive 1,000 books respectively. This effort is one of several from the pop culture icon as she supports the Scholastic Possible Fund’s initiative “Open a Word of Possible.”

President of Scholastic Education Greg Worrell said, “Scholastic is honored to join with Taylor Swift, who continues to show a passion for literacy and a commitment to spreading the message of how influential books can be in a child’s life.”

Swift helped make a webcast for Scholastic’s site in October 2014 that demonstrated “how books, reading and writing have influenced her and opened her world.” At the time of Education World’s report, the webcast had been viewed over 4.5 million times from students around the country.

The effort followed the results of an annual survey that examined the reading diets of 9.8 million U.S. students. It found that students who read with comprehension for 15 minutes or more per day are more likely to meet college and career readiness benchmarks, even among those who are struggling students, English learners, or receive free/reduced lunch. The survey also found that habitual reading has the capability to significantly close the achievement gap in schools.

The most recent Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report found that “having a selection of texts for independent reading can be a powerful tool to encourage kids to pick up a book. The same report revealed that nine in ten kids agree that their favorite books—and the ones they are most likely to finish—are ones they pick out themselves,” said Scholastic in a statement.

Anita Zucker makes large sizeable donations to education. Philanthropist Anita Zucker, chief executive officer of the InterTech Group in North Charleston, has become a mainstay on Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest Americans.

Her net worth was estimated to be around $2.4 billion, but it was Zucker’s inclination to share the wealth among educational institutions that was touted in 2014. A former public school teacher herself, education has always been a top cause for Zucker. This year, she donated over $14 million to educational programs.

In October 2014, she donated $5 million to the University of Florida, her alma mater. The money was used to improve its College of Education’s early-childhood education program and was the largest contribution ever from an individual donor.

Just a few weeks later, Zucker donated $4 million to the School of Education at The Citadel. She took education courses at the college in the 1970s, and the school is where her oldest son earned his master’s degree.

Her son was also named chairman of the S.C. Aquarium board in 2014, and the family donated $5 million to build a new sea turtle hospital and improve the nonprofit aquarium’s educational programs. Once again, the donation was the largest gift the organization had ever received.

InterTech Group, started by the philanthropist’s late husband Jerry, includes a chemical company, real estate, manufacturing and aerospace parts production.
Zucker said in a 2012 interview that she brings her Jewish values to work daily. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she said, “Tikkun olam (fixing the world) is very much a part of our business platform,” referring to InterTech Group.

Zucker’s intentions to better our country and its education show her generosity and love of eduction. I find her intentions refreshing and appreciate that she is using her wealth to benefit the lives of others.

I know that I didn’t discuss a few celebrities, but it wasn’t a slight. There are only so many hours in a day. So tell me, who did I miss?

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