Recent innovations have expanded parents’ options. Many families seeking alternative forms of education for their children have been aided by private scholarships provided by such entities as the Vandenburg Foundation, now known as CEO Michigan. According to Scott Gordon, Executive Director, during the 1997-98 school year, CEO Michigan awarded 462 scholarships statewide to students in 110 schools and 35 cities.13 These scholarships are available to parents who choose any school. Scholarship amounts are $1,000 per year, and the recipients may receive the grant in successive years of schooling. Although the aid is still less than that needed for tuition at an alternative school, it is enough to enable many parents to place their children in an alternative school of their choice.

Located in Detroit, Cornerstone Schools were organized by a coalition of church groups, with support from businesses and community organizations, to offer educational opportunities to children from low-income families. First proposed by Adam Cardinal Maida in 1990, the schools have a Christian, though not explicitly Catholic, orientation. The curriculum is rigorous and is spread across an 11-month school year. The three schools established by the coalition offer assistance to students with a Partner Program, which matches each student with a partner who provides a $2,000 grant to help defray the cost of tuition. The board of the organization, chaired by Michigan School Board member W. Clark Durant, is supported by monetary grants from 270 individual and corporate partners, including the Big Three auto-makers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Detroit Edison. Partners provide more than monetary assistance, however. They also serve as a positive influence in the students’ lives. Meetings between partners and students are arranged four times each year. During the 1996-97 school year, 409 students were enrolled in the Cornerstone Schools.

The success of Cornerstone Schools in creating a quality educational opportunity in an urban setting has won widespread acclaim. The organization has received awards from the Clinton Administration’s National Education Commission on Time and Learning, along with Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s third annual "Freedom Works" award.14

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