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PIPER JAFFRAY TO GIVE RILEY KIDS A BOOST

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Students at Riley Elementary will get a boost in reading this year, thanks to employees of the Salt Lake branch of Piper Jaffray.

As part of its 100-year birthday celebration, the brokerage firm has donated $25,000 in books, computers and reading aids to the school, and the branch's 30 employees and their families plan on spending time with students in the classrooms to help them become better readers."This is one area where the teachers and the school cannot do the job alone," said Anthony Bozich, Riley's principal. "With the help of parents and the community, our underachievers can become overachievers."

All of Piper Jaffray's 80 branches nationwide have undertaken community programs this year such as feeding the homeless, painting homes or providing transportation in needy areas.

Salt Lake branch manager Don Larkin said his employees chose Riley, 1431 S. 900 West, as a school with much potential but also many challenges that could be overcome with help. A large percentage of Riley's 400 students come from low-income families, and half are minorities. The student body speaks as many as five languages.

"They looked at the school and said, `This is where we can do some good - this is one where we can help out,' " Piper Jaffray spokesman Glen Willardson said.

The Piper Jaffray employees plan to read to students during lunch hour and after school and will also record their reading of books so that the children can listen to them at their leisure. Willardson said many employees will "adopt" children and focus their attentions on them.

In addition to its centennial programs, Piper Jaffray annually puts 5 percent of its profits into community projects.

"When you take the firm as a whole, it's a substantial amount of money," Larkin said.