THE PROMISE: How One Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of First Graders to College

Oral Lee Brown, Author, Caille Millner, Author with Caille Millner. Doubleday $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-51147-6

On a whim one afternoon in 1987, Brown, a middle-class woman living in the poor and crime-ridden community of East Oakland, Calif., walked into her classroom of 23 first graders and promised that if they finished high school, she'd send them all to college. Of that first group of "her babies," as Brown calls them (her own children were already grown up), 19 went on to college. Today, the Oral Lee Brown Foundation sends 20 teenagers from this same community to college every four years. Brown's experience with the first group was difficult, but she only briefly explains how it affected her personally, preferring to focus on the kids (although her constant reminders that she's doing so do become grating). She raised money (donating her own income as a base) and acted as a second family to these children, taking them on college tours; buying them books and groceries; and, occasionally, putting them up in her own house. Written with San Jose Mercury News reporter Millner, the book is didactic in its approach, yet should inspire parents and teachers, who will especially appreciate the "tip sheet for college acceptance" at book's end. Agent, Greg Dinkin at Venture Literary. (On sale Apr. 5)

Reviewed on: 02/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-7679-1699-8
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