The Daniels Fund, known across the West for helping send needy and deserving kids to college, has agreed to pay much of the legal bill for the Douglas County School District as the district fights to keep its voucher program alive.
The fund's initial gift of $330,000 will pay the district's legal tab to date, district officials confirmed.
In addition, the fund has offered a matching grant of $200,000 for what is expected to be the ongoing cost of the legal battle. To collect that money, the district will have to raise an additional $200,000.
"We are extremely grateful to The Daniels Fund for their very generous contribution," Douglas County Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen said. "These dollars will allow us to support our students without using taxpayer dollars."
While the fund is probably best known for awarding college scholarships annually, it makes grants in several fields, including efforts to treat and stabilize people suffering from substance abuse and homelessness.
But education, and specifically education reform, is a primary focus, said Linda Childears, the fund's chief executive.
The Daniels Fund is named for its founder, Bill Daniels?, a Greeley native, World War II fighter pilot and accomplished boxer who made a fortune as a pioneer in cable TV.
Daniels, who died in 2000, was impatient that education reform wasn't happening fast enough, Childears said.
"He wanted us to fund programs that were really trying new and different ways to accomplish things in education," she said. "He specifically mentioned vouchers as a concept that made sense to him based on his belief in the free market and that parents should have the right to determine the best education for their kids."
Childears said Daniels was "all about school choice."