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Peterson Family Foundation Donates $1M to Teach For America's D.C.-Area Chapter

3/10/2014, 5:36 p.m.
From left: Katherine Bradley, chair of the Teach For America D.C.-Region board of directors, Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell and county Executive Rushern L. Baker III were on hand March 10 at William W. Hall Academy in Capitol Heights, Md., for an announcement that the Peterson Family Foundation is donating $1 million to Teach For America-D.C. Region. (Courtesy of the Peterson Family Foundation)

Prince Georges County Executive Rushern L. Baker III announced Monday that the Peterson Family Foundation is donating $1 million to Teach For America-D.C. Region for its work in the county's schools.

The contribution from the family foundation associated with the Peterson Cos., one of the largest privately-held real estate development companies in the Washington region and developer of National Harbor in Prince George's County, was announced at the William W. Hall Academy in Capitol Heights, Md., a pre-K-8 school whose principal entered public education through the Teach For America program in D.C.

"Since moving to Prince George's County, being a parent to three PGCPS graduates and serving as an elected official, I have made it a point to ask everyone who works and lives in Prince George's County to think about how they can contribute to the success of our county's children," Baker said. "To have a partner like the Peterson Companies step up in such a significant way is a great example for other businesses and individuals in our community. Prince George's County thanks Milt Peterson and the Peterson Foundation for, once again, demonstrating their commitment to our communities, our families, and most importantly, our students. Like I've said, education is everybody's business."

The $1 million commitment will be given over four years to Teach For America-D.C. Region, with the money specifically earmarked for Prince George's County.

"County Executive Baker is right on point when he says that Education is everybodys business, and our family is proud to answer that call," said Milt Peterson, principal and chairman of Peterson Companies. "Prince George's County is on such an upswing, and we agree that investing in the countys public schools through proven, successful programs like Teach For America is a critical component to keep building that momentum."

Kevin M. Maxwell, CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools, said the contribution will help enable Teach For America to continue to attract committed, student-driven educators to join the school system.

"Teach For America has a tremendous track record, not just in Prince George's County but across the region and the nation," Maxwell said. "The program has made significant contributions to our system, and we are grateful to the Peterson Cos. For ensuring that resources will continue to be there for Teach For Americas work to continue in Prince George's."

Teach For America-D.C. Region began a partnership with Prince George's County in 2007 with 25 first-year teachers. Since then the program has steadily increased its presence based on principal demand, with 100 teachers working in 39 schools in the county this school year.

During the announcement, MenSa Ankh Maa, principal of William W. Hall Academy, described how he entered public education as a Teacher For America corps member in 1998 in the D.C. schools system.

"Teach For America has played such a major role in helping to shape and develop me as an educator," Maa said. "And Teach For America continues to have a significant impact on me. Three corps members are currently teaching in my school, and it is very meaningful for me to encourage the positive impact I see them having on students each day."

The monetary gift will be used to recruit, select and train diverse, driven recent college graduates and professionals to teach in the D.C. region of Teach For America, which spans the District and Prince George's County. In addition, the investment will pay for ongoing teacher support and professional development, including one-on-one teacher mentorship and coaching and continuing content-specific support with veteran education experts.

Accepting the award, Teach For America D.C.-Region board Chair Katherine Bradley said, "This remarkable investment from the Peterson Family will strengthen Teach For America's presence in Prince George's County, where we have already seen great progress in partnership with the school system, students and families. The Petersons and county Executive Baker share our core belief at Teach For America: That all children in every home, school and region of America deserve access to an excellent education."