National Geographic Society and Connecticut Educators Launch State Geography Endowment

A $1 million endowment to boost geography education in Connecticut local schools will be launched by the National Geographic Society, the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority and Yale University next week.

A $1 million endowment to boost geography education in Connecticut local schools will be launched by the National Geographic Society, the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority and Yale University next week.

National Geographic Society -NGS- Chairman Gilbert M. Grosvenor and Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority -CRRA- Acting President Robert Wright will sign an agreement on Monday, March 16, at North Haven Middle School, making Connecticut the seventh state in the nation to receive an endowment from the NGS Education Fund to support the teaching of geography in primary and secondary schools.

Under the leadership of Grosvenor -Yale ‘54-, NGS has spearheaded a $100 million initiative to raise the standard and level of enthusiasm for the study of geography in the nation’s schools. The NGS Education Fund does this primarily by matching grants to a network of 50 state alliances to support geography education and teacher training. The endowment program enables states to create a permanent and growing funding base for teaching geography to their students.

The Connecticut endowment, to be known as the Connecticut Fund for Geography Education, is the outgrowth of an unusual and committed group of individuals and organizations throughout the state. The initiative to improve geography education has been led by the Connecticut Geographic Alliance -CGA-, a 10-year-old organization of geographers, education program providers and teachers, created with the support of the University of Connecticut Geography Department, the State Department of Education, and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. Since its formation, CGA has initiated activities to support student mastery of geography, curriculum and teacher training in geography, and in-service programs that use geography to address a broad range of interdisciplinary, environmental and international issues.

Spearheading the campaign to develop a permanent endowment were founding coordinators of CGA, Judith Meyer, professor of geography and director of the UConn/Hartford Schools Partnership and Daniel Gregg, social studies consultant for the Connecticut Department of Education; with Nancy Ruther, associate director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.

For the CRRA, the decision to provide matching funds for the endowment grew out of its commitment to the environment and educational outreach. “This is an organization that sprang from geographical necessity,” points out CRRA Acting President Robert Wright. “It was created to assist Connecticut cities and towns with the solid waste management crisis they faced – a shortage of landfill space and a growing supply of waste.” CRRA operates four resources recovery facilities, operates two of the largest recycling facilities in the country and manages a state-wide transportation system to move waste and recyclables among its facilities.

Wright also points out, “CRRA has always been committed to the stewardship of the state’s land and resources and has been an active participant in environmental and educational outreach activities. In particular, at each of its recycling centers, CRRA operates educational facilities which annually provide instruction for thousands of students in the importance of recycling and preserving Connecticut’s natural resources.”

Lanny Proffer, executive director of the NGS-affiliated Education Foundation, adds, “The Society is delighted that the respected environmental organization CRRA recognizes the value of geography education to promote its environmental education objectives.”

During the first three years, as the Connecticut Geography Education Fund builds up, the income from the endowment will be used to support and expand the activities of the CGA including:

-Summer and advanced institutes on geography, international studies and environmental issues for K-12 teachers and administrators.

-In-service training programs for teachers.

-Enrichment programs for Connecticut youth on environmental and international topics, including computer-based Geographic Information Systems and web-based learning.

-The Family Geography Challenge, a school-based program that encourages families to watch the news together and identify the locations of newsworthy events.

Once the Fund is fully established, between $50-100,000 annually is expected to be available to support geography education in the state. CGA will provide the essential programmatic and operational base for the Fund and will eventually open a window for competitive seed-grants as well.

For further information, contact Lauress M. Ackman, Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 203 432-3413; Fax: 203 432-9383; Email: lauress.ackman@yale.edu

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325