NEWS

Irvine Co. Gives $1 Million for Santa Ana School Programs

Ivine Co. gives $1 million for Santa Ana school programs
Irvine Company commits $20 million to Irvine schools.

Fermin Leal
Orange County Register

June 13, 2006; Local 4

The Irvine Co. handed out a gift of $1 million Monday for after-school tutoring, sports and homework help for some of Orange County’s neediest students.

Dan Young, executive vice president of the Irvine Co., attended a ceremony at Madison Elementary School to give the donation to THINK Together, a nonprofit group that provides after-school services at schools in Santa Ana and other cities.

“Through this gift, we hope to invest in the children in Santa Ana,” said Young, who grew up in Santa Ana and served as mayor several years ago. “We also hope other private companies will use this as an example to donate to schools.”

THINK Together has offered after-school programs to students in Santa Ana, Orange, Tustin and Costa Mesa for the past nine years. The Irvine Co. donation will benefit only students from Santa Ana, Young said.

The donation would allow the group to extend after-school programs to 40 of the district’s 50 schools, benefiting more than 10,000 students. The donation should keep the program funded for the next 10 years, officials said.

Since 2000, the Irvine Co. has given more than $80 million to public education.

In Irvine Unified, donations by the developer have helped that district keep class sizes small, funded music and art programs, and helped prevent budget deficits.

Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Al Mijares said the funding would help students in his district perform better academically.

“This will help extend the school day for many of our students,” Mijares said. “They will continue the process of learning even after the typical school day ends.”

Students in Santa Ana, the state’s fifth-largest school district, often struggle with standardized tests. Many of the district’s schools rank near the bottom in Orange County on state test scores. About 75 percent of students come from low-income families and 60 percent are still learning English.

Those were some of the reasons the Irvine Co. selected Santa Ana for the donation, Young said.

Madison Elementary fifth-grader George Samano has already participated in after-school programs provided by THINK Together and credited the program for his solid grades.

“If I wasn’t in this program, I would just be at home all day eating junk food and watching television,” he said.

Giving to schools

Since 2000, the Irvine Co. has given more than $80 million to education. Here are a few of the developer’s previous donations:

” $20 million for music and arts programs in Irvine Unified, 2006

” $20 million to UC Irvine, 2000-06

” $60,000 to the Highland Teen Center in Orange, 2003

” $1.9 million for science, music and arts in Irvine Unified, 2000