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Opening the Doors to Higher Education and Success: Visionaries Honored With the 21st Annual McGraw Prize in Education

Richard Blais, Vice President and Co-Founder, Project Lead the Way; Judith Berry Griffin, President and Founder, Pathways to College; and Charles B. Reed, Chancellor, California State University System

NEW YORK, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2008 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education honors Richard Blais, Judith Berry Griffin and Charles B. Reed for their work in paving the way for increased higher education access and success for U.S. students. Announced today by Harold McGraw III, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), the honorees will be recognized this evening at a dinner at the New York Public Library.

"In the 20th century, the United States set the standard in education, and as a nation we took pride in having the strongest and most accessible education system in the world. Sadly, this is no longer true," said Mr. McGraw. "Widespread access to education -- once an unquestioned national asset -- has become a national challenge. The three educators we honor this year have demonstrated a commitment toward bridging gaps to higher education and breaking down barriers faced by too many of today's young students."

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education annually recognizes outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to enhancing learning in this country and whose accomplishments are making a difference today. Honorees are chosen by a distinguished Board of Judges from the education community. Each winner receives a gift of $25,000 and a bronze sculpture. The Prize was established in 1988 to honor Harold W. McGraw, Jr.'s lifelong commitment to education, and to mark the Corporation's 100th anniversary.

"It is critically important to assure our students have access to the tools needed to both enter and succeed in college -- and to succeed in life," said Mr. McGraw. "Each of the 2008 McGraw Prize honorees recognizes this and has taken an innovative approach to increasing that access. In doing so, they are continuing in the tradition of past Prize winners who have made it their life's work to influence the future by preparing students today."

2008 McGraw Prize Winners:

Richard Blais - Richard Blais is the vice president and co-founder of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). PLTW is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of students who are well-prepared to study engineering in college by working in partnership with local colleges and offering a pre- engineering curriculum. Operating in 2,000 high schools in 49 states, PLTW has been successful in encouraging students in career/technical education programs to take demanding college prep courses, including four years of math and three years of science. Blais is a former director of Occupational Education for the Shenendehowa Central School District in Clifton Park, NY, where he supervised career and technical programs for the school district of 9,000 K-12 students.

Judith Berry Griffin - Judith Berry Griffin is the president and founder of the non-profit organization Pathways to College. Pathways to College identifies talented children of color in low-performing high schools. For four years, the students attend a special twice-weekly after-school program that offers coaching in study skills, writing and critical thinking. First piloted in 1992 and incorporated as an independent non-profit in 1993, the program has served some 2,100 students directly. Hundreds more are reached indirectly at each program site, where Pathways to College Scholars act as role models, thereby creating a culture where it's "cool to be smart." Many of its graduates go on to selective four-year colleges such as Wellesley, Smith, Stanford, Hampshire and the University of Chicago. Prior to founding Pathways to College, Griffin was president of A Better Chance. Griffin also is a children's book author and former school principal.

Charles B. Reed - Charles B. Reed is the chancellor of the 450,000-student California State University (CSU) system. Reed launched an initiative throughout California to recruit and retain more minority students. Understanding that African American, Hispanic, Native American and Asian students represent an underserved population at the university level, he directed his own staff and other university system personnel to intensify efforts at recruiting these groups. One indicator of success was an increase of 6.5 percent in the enrollment of African American students at CSU, from 2006 to 2007; Hispanic enrollment increased by 9.5 percent; and Native American enrollment increased by 8.2 percent. Reed has served as the CSU system chancellor since 1998. He had been the chancellor of the State University of Florida before then and also was the chief of staff for the governor of Florida.

Former Winners:

Past honorees include: Barbara Bush, Founder, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy; James B. Hunt, Jr., Former Governor of North Carolina; Former U.S. Secretaries of Education Richard Riley and Rod Paige; Norman Augustine, Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Wendy Kopp, then President, now Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Teach for America; High School Principals Vincent Murray, Henry W. Grady High School, Atlanta, Georgia and Reynauld Smith, Social Studies and Advanced Placement American History Teacher, Eastern Senior High School, Washington, D.C.; and Dennis Littky, Co-Director of The Met and Director of the Principal Residency Network.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.

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