When wealthy recluse John McDonogh died in 1850, the residents of New Orleans and Baltimore were surprised to find themselves the beneficiaries of his considerable estate. His will specified that the money was to be used for the purpose of establishing public schools in the two cities for “education of the poor of all castes and races.” Over 30 public schools bearing John McDonogh’s name were constructed in New Orleans.
The mission of McDonogh 15 is to empower students with the academic skills and character traits they need to succeed in competitive high schools and colleges. According to Robichaux, 80 percent of graduates of other KIPP network schools have enrolled in college, compared with only 25 percent of public high school students in New Orleans.
Over the years, The Little Red School House suffered from neglect that left the school in disrepair, and, like many other New Orleans landmarks, endured additional structural damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Support from KONICA MINOLTA will allow the school to repair exterior cracks, damaged windows and deteriorating bathrooms, as well as upgrade and add playground equipment to a local park that serves as the only open green space for a school located in the middle of the French Quarter.
The money raised will go towards fixing the school’s ceiling, exterior and bathrooms, replacing windows, repainting, cleaning up the local park and purchasing new playground equipment. Beyond the structural improvements, KONICA MINOLTA will donate $20,000 worth of products for the students’ everyday use, including graphic application software, wide-format color printers and high-speed scanners.
McDonogh 15’s structural renovations serve as the entry point for longer-term initiatives KONICA MINOLTA has put into place. The company will continue to make bi-annual donations of notebooks, pens, pencils and other necessary school supplies. In addition, KONICA MINOLTA has committed to a $45,000 yearly investment to provide financial support to students who could not otherwise afford the costs of private education.
Each year, three $15,000 scholarships will be awarded to best-in-class students – one based on academic performance, one for achievement in the visual arts and another for proficiency in the musical arts. These scholarships will offer opportunities for graduating eighth grade students to attend top-rated New Orleans high schools that will provide them with the foundation to pursue higher education.
Details about the school’s visionary founding principal Lucianne Carmichael from her 2016 obituary:
The next year she was assigned to McDonogh 15, an empty elementary school in the French Quarter. With the help of dedicated staff, she breathed life into a dead building and an innovative school was born. The extensive research for her various proposals, articles and workshops had introduced Lucianne to the British Infant School. In 1973 she raised funds to send four teachers and herself to England to observe. That was so successful that she arranged for a group of McDonogh 15 teachers to go to England in 1976. In 1981 she became the first Visiting Practitioner to the Principals’ Center, Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 1985, after 20 years in public education, Lucianne retired.