Whitman gives $2.5M to Summit Schools

SAN JOSE, Calif.

"Everyone knows we need to reform education in the United States," said Whitman to the crowd.

The former gubernatorial candidate is on the campaign trail again, but this time she is reaching out to those in the Silicon Valley with deep pockets to help her raise money for Summit public charter schools.

"I'm going to personally be involved in that fundraising effort and challenge people to make a difference in our community," said Whitman.

Her foundation gave $2.5 million to Summit on Tuesday and will drop another $2.5 million if other entrepreneurs match her.

Why Summit? They have two existing schools in Redwood City where nearly all students were admitted to four-year colleges. One was featured in the documentary "Waiting For Superman," as a highly successful school.

A month ago, the charter school group opened two high schools in East San Jose after being approached by parents.

Parent Monica Rivera is pleased with the results.

"Every morning the teachers are here at 7:30 a.m. They don't start school until 9 a.m. so they work with the kids before school if they need help and they work with the kids after school," said Rivera.

Summit charter high schools are small with no more than 400 students and their goal is to get every one of them college ready -- something that even in the Silicon Valley has not been achieved.

Denise Pope, Ph.D., is with the Stanford School of Education. She says the socio economic diversity there is a factor.

"It's much harder to get those populations college ready because they don't go through the normal track. They first have to become proficient with English and reading," said Pope.

Summit Schools say they will bring change to the valley.

"I expect to get into college and get good grades and have a career," said student Briana Betancourt.

"This is the start of 10 more of our Summit schools. We can now call back those other communities who are calling us and saying 'We really want a Summit here' and say, 'We're coming,'" said Diane Tavenner, the CEO of Summit Schools.

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