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Zion Preparatory Academy Announces $5.5 Million Contributed Toward Capital Campaign Goal of $10 million

Award-winning school celebrates major donations to school and encourages community support at special event featuring Maurice Ashley, the first African-American Grand Chess Master

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Laura McCloud Mathers
Zion Preparatory Academy
Phone: 206.760.0372

SEATTLE -- With its goal of raising $10 million firmly in view, Zion Preparatory Academy announced today it has received more than $5.5 million toward its capital campaign to help ensure the school's success into the next century. Major donors, school leadership, students, and parents will kick off the public phase of the capital campaign with an event to showcase the school's successes and celebrate the community's embrace of the predominantly African-American school. The event will feature Maurice Ashley, the first African-American grand chess master who will give an inspirational speech to the community and play chess with Zion Prep's award-winning elementary school chess team.

The campaign began in 1997 to create a solid foundation for the school's continued success. Of the campaign goal, $6 million will be used to create an endowment fund that will support core programs, maintain an affordable tuition structure which is key to serving Zion's diverse community, and respond to critical financial needs. The remaining $4 million will be used to complete the purchase of the school building, located in the heart of Rainier Valley.

"We are so proud of our students and thankful to our leadership donors for helping us realize 60% of our capital campaign goal. We're now asking the community to join forces with those who have already stepped up to support the campaign so that we may continue to support, nurture and educate our kids," said school Director Doug Wheeler. "We always knew if we set high expectations for our students, they would reach even higher…..and they have."

Zion Prep will celebrate the progress of the campaign at a school luncheon featuring a chess exhibition with the Zion Kings and Queens elementary school chess team and Maurice

Ashley, the first African-American Grand Chess Master. Special recognition will be given to the campaign's leadership donors of $100,000 and above. They include: Bill and Melinda Gates, Jack and Becky Benaroya, Starbucks, Jeff and Susan Brotman, Erik and Sherilyn Anderson, the Lee Family, Costco, Foster Foundation, John and Ginny Meisenbach, the Ackerley Group, Jim and C.K. Coles, Jack and Jan Creighton, and Steve and Patty Fleischmann.

Zion Preparatory Academy started over 16 years ago when several African-American community members in Seattle came together to find solutions for serious problems. Led by pastor Eugene Drayton, the school began with six students and one teacher. That same year the school hired Wheeler, who, with the help of the community, has helped turn the vision of Zion Prep into a reality. The school is now "home" to 500 children, from toddlers to eighth graders, and 75 staff members.

"It's been a joy to be associated with Zion Prep, and to help these kids reach their full potential," said Bill Clapp, co-chair of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee. "The students at Zion Prep, with their obvious inquisitiveness and intelligence, and the many committed individuals who are creating a true role model of a school, are the reason my wife and I love being involved."

Academic programs at Zion include Reading Mastery, which challenges students to read two grade levels ahead; and the Connecting Math Concepts, which introduces algebraic thinking to kindergartners through fifth graders. In addition, the school has a highly competitive Chess Club, a great source of pride for the school. The team brings home trophies from tournaments throughout the region. It was in recognition of the Chess Club's passion that Maurice Ashley, one of the best chess players in the world, will participate in today's celebration.

"I understand first-hand the role community plays in raising a child," said Maurice Ashley. "Zion Prep reaches out to kids, many of whom would fall through the cracks in other environments, to help them grow, learn and succeed. The school's phenomenal chess team is a great example of what can be done when a community comes together, and why continued support of this school is so important."

For additional information about Zion Preparatory Academy or to contribute to the capital campaign, contact the school at 206-760-0224. Zion Preparatory Academy is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.

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