The gift to the HISD Foundation brings the total amount of private funds raised to support more than 13,000 students in 20 of HISD's neediest schools to more than $14 million.
"This is a huge opportunity for the show to partner with HISD. Most of our scholarship winners come from the district, so it's literally an investment in our future," said Skip Wagner, president of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. "Our goals are aligned, in that our biggest priority is getting kids out of high school and prepared for college, and that must start at an early age."
Paula Harris, president of the HISD Board of Education, thanked the Rodeo for reaffirming its long-standing commitment to public education.
"Generations of Houston students have benefitted from the generosity of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo," Harris said. "By investing in a program that could provide a replicable school transformation model for educators across America to use, the Rodeo is demonstrating a truly visionary approach to philanthropy."
Launched during the 2010-2011 school year by the HISD Board of Education and Superintendent Terry Grier, Apollo 20 is a three-year program that this fall expanded to include 11 elementary schools that fall short of meeting academic standards. Overall academic performance at the Apollo 20 secondary schools improved during the 2010-2011 school year.
"Houston's business and philanthropic leaders are rallying behind Apollo 20 because we know our city's future prosperity is directly tied to HISD's ability to prepare our future workforce," said Lori Vetters, a member of the Apollo 20 Oversight Committee and former education chair for the Greater Houston Partnership. "This is a monumental task, but Houston is a can-do city that will not be satisfied until every child attends a great school."