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Gates foundation giving $51 million for schools

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Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates

Gregory Bull, Associated Press

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced Wednesday that his foundation will donate $51 million to create 67 small, academically rigorous public high schools in poor neighborhoods.

"This commitment to high schools is critical," Gates said at a news conference. "I think it's the kind of thing that's going to keep this country at the forefront."

The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was announced at Morris High School in the Bronx, which has been made into five small schools with money from an earlier Gates gift.

"The small school really makes learning easier," said 10th-grader Siobhan Pearson, who attends one of the schools.

Among the officials accompanying Gates were New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Caroline Kennedy, the chief fund-raiser for city schools. The daughter of the late President Kennedy was named to the $1-a-year post last year as part of a bid to boost private-sector help for public education in the city.