Foundation grants Title 1 schools opportunity to fly

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Winners will participate in Scobee activities.

By Nicole Bautista

A recent Najim Family Foundation grant of more than $13,500 subsidizes the cost of admission to Scobee Education Center for 22 Title 1 schools, allowing students to partake in a Challenger mission and view a planetarium show.

Scobee Director Rick Varner said the Najim Family Foundation is well known in the area for giving back.

Founder Harvey Najim said the foundation’s focus is to help children.

“I decided to start a foundation that would help children with their needs — being food, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, early childhood education, kids who have disabilities and kids who are homeless,” Najim said in a Nov. 18 phone interview.

Najim said Scobee was a fitting candidate for a grant “because this had to do with elementary, junior schools and education.”

Varner describes Title 1 schools as “schools that have a large percentage of students who are on the free and reduced lunch programs.”

The participants will be in sixth through eighth-grades from schools in the Edgewood, Northside, Judson, Harlendale and San Antonio independent school districts.

In total the participants were granted $13,539.59, funding 22 missions and planetarium combinations.

“With a lot of these classes, the teachers have told us that they would not have been able to do what we are doing here without the grant,” Varner said.

Najim considers this good education for these children, “being able to participate in a 2 ½-hour mission that uses space simulation and role-playing strategy to bring their classroom studies to life and to cultivate critical thinking skills.”

In the Challenger Center the students will operate the Earth Odyssey mission. Varner explained that in this mission the students will “fly” to the space station, and as they look back at Earth they will study floods, hurricanes and many different things from space.

Without the grant, the mission and planetarium combo would cost the schools $600 for each class.

This is the second year the Najim Family Foundation has funded this grant.

Najim has contributed more than $61 million to 177 organizations and charities in the San Antonio area.

The foundation started in 2006 after receiving a “significant amount of money from my stocks and decided that I didn’t need it so I decided to start a foundation that would help children.”

Najim said he focuses on children because “children are our future.”


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