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San Diego Unified's Class of 2014 graduates to split $150,000 in scholarship money

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Unified School District's Class of 2014 graduates will split $150,000 in scholarship money thanks to the The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

On Wednesday morning, the Foundation announced that the Houston Independent School District was awarded this year's Broad Prize and
$550,000 in scholarship money for its students. Besides San Diego Unified, other districts nominated were Corona-Norco, located in Riverside County, and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina.

"We're thrilled that San Diego Unified has been recognized as one of the four best school districts in the United States," said Kevin Beiser, board of education vice president and Subdistrict B representative. "This is a big win for the teachers that work constantly with our students to improve their learning, and a recognition of the hard work done by support staff in making a great environment for our students."

Superintendent Cindy Marten and retired Superintendent Bill Kowba -- on whose watch the nomination was announced -- attended the award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be recognized by The Broad Foundation," Marten said. "I am grateful to our team of employees who work every day in-and-out of the classrooms for our children.

"This honor reaffirms that our community-based reform efforts and singular focus on student achievement are making a difference."

Districts do not apply for this prize. Staff from the Broad Foundation looks at test scores and other data from the 75 largest school districts and picks four finalists. A team of independent educational experts then analyze the districts and one winner is selected. Only the four top districts receive scholarship money.

Kowba, who retired June 30, said he was "grateful to our San Diego Unified employees for their dedication to our students."

"We are honored, humbled and grateful to the Broad Foundation for this recognition," said Kowba, who retired June 30. "We appreciate their feedback about our past efforts. It will help provide the district with a roadmap for future efforts."

The $1 million Broad Prize is the largest education award in the nation.

It recognizes urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.

The $150,000 in scholarships will go a long way to help the Class of 2014 succeed, Marten said.

"I'm excited for our students who will receive Broad scholarships," she said. "I can't wait to get back to San Diego."

The 75 largest urban school districts in America are automatically eligible for the award each year. Houston Independent School District will receive $550,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors who will graduate in 2014. San Diego Unified, along with Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina, will each receive $150,000 in college scholarships.

The Broad Prize is awarded by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Broad Foundation is a philanthropic organization that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed.