National Firm Boosts Local Teachers

An international designer garment corporation is boosting Tulsa’s teachers.

Jones Apparel Group Inc. has launched its first corporate wide cause program-Jones New York in the Classroom.

In Tulsa, the program to aid teachers will be administered by the Tulsa Community Foundation. (TFC).

The nationwide program aims to improve the quality of education for children through recruitment, retention and support of teachers in America’s public schools.

In addition to dollar donations, the JNY is offering human resources via an employee network and a united effort with four other national non-profit organizations.

Tulsa’s Fund for Teachers (FFT) was one of the four beneficiary nonprofits selected to participate in this national campaign.

FFT is a public foundation whose mission is to enrich the lives of schoolteachers and students by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunities for renewal.

In partnership with TCF, FFT provides funds for direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities of their own design

FFT recently recognized its 2005 fellows – 82 teachers from Tulsa – area schools – who received grants, totaling over $214,190 of funds awarded, for the opportunity to travel, attend seminars and workshops, and acquire hands-on materials and information to enrich their students in the classroom.

“The Jones Apparel Group is helping Americans understand how vitally important it is to nurture and invest in teachers, “said Fund for Teachers Executive Director, Karen Kovach-Webb.

The need for teacher is great and retention is important, said Kovach-Webb. Experts predict that two million more new teachers will be needed over the next decade, while recent studies show that approximately one-third of the nation’s teachers leave the profession during the first three years and almost half in the first five years.

“(We want to) take a leadership role in providing immediate and tangible help in the classroom, while encouraging others to join us along the way,” said Peter Boneparth, president and CEO, Jones Apparel Group Inc.

Rather than just “throw money” at the cause, the corporation “is taking multifaceted approach to supporting teachers at critical points in their careers, with a focus on four areas: recruitment, retention, professional development and recognition and support,” he said.