The St. Paul School District is getting nearly $1.5 million from Travelers' Insurance to help get more students ready for college.
This new money will expand a program called AVID into earlier grades. At the high school level, AVID encourages teens who would wouldn't normally be pegged for advanced placement to take those courses -- along with a class that provides tutoring and other curriculum to help those students pass the harder classes.
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says expanding AVID to younger grades gets kids thinking about college even sooner.
"It actually teaches students in the early grades to be better students, and it teaches them to make the connection between what they're learning and what they're going to be doing later in life," said Carstarphen.
Travelers usually gives about $100,000 each year to St. Paul schools. But Andy Bessette, the company's chief administrative officer, said the gift represents a change in the company's philanthropy.
He says Travelers intends to focus its giving more on education efforts where the company's two main hubs are located, St. Paul and Hartford, Conn.
"We've given X number of grants in the past for X dollars. And our plan, clearly, is to give larger grants -- more meaningful grants -- in more focused areas, and fewer of them," said Bessette. "And that's good because we can do more meaningful things in the community."
The money will also help fund an academy for school principals, and an effort that started last year to let any St. Paul high schooler take college entrance exams for free.