By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a huge gift aimed at kick-starting improvements in Philadelphia schools.

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The William Penn Foundation is giving $15 million over the next three years to the Philadelphia School Partnership, to help fund the endeavor known as The Great Schools Compact.

That’s a citywide effort to replace 50,000 seats in so-called low-performing schools and replace them with seats in high-performing public, charter and Catholic schools.

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The Partnership’s executive director, Mark Gleason, says the gift is a vote of confidence.

“To have the largest local foundation become a big partner in this, is of course a huge step. But it’s one of many steps that we’re going to need because this really needs to be a broad-based and collective effort.”

Gleason says the Partnership will begin giving grants to schools later this month. He says the money could be used for training or technology or upgrading a building.

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