First lady Laura Bush and seven others were honored Tuesday for their help in supporting the health, education and welfare of children.
America's Promise Alliance, founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell in 1997, sponsored the awards that were created to commemorate the group's 10th anniversary. The alliance is based on a joint effort of nonprofit groups, corporations, community leaders, charities, faith-based organizations and individuals to improve children's lives.
Bush was recognized for her support of literacy and education programs, including Teach for America, The New Teacher Project and Troops to Teachers.
"Parents and teachers make sure that kids who are likely to become high school dropouts instead become college graduates," the first lady told about 150 attendees in the White House East Room, including President Bush and Colin Powell and Alma Powell, the alliance's current chairwoman.
The alliance's No. 1 priority now is to help 15 million disadvantaged youth graduate high school, said Marguerite Kondracke, the organization's president and CEO.
Earlier in the night, the president hosted a dinner in the State Dining Room in honor of the organization. Bush recognized the Powells for their contributions to children.
"Throughout their lives, the Powells have answered our country's call. They've served our nation in times of peace and war, and they have led, taught and inspired Americans along the way," Bush said.
The other award recipients were:
- Doris and Donald Fisher, founders of the Gap Inc. They have contributed more than $100 million to programs, including Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Teach for America and the Knowledge in Power Program.
- Elaine Wynn, the founding chair of the Nevada program of Communities in Schools, the nation's largest dropout prevention network.
- Maria Shriver, who as honorary chair of CaliforniaVolunteers launched the largest statewide volunteer matching effort to connect California residents with volunteer opportunities.
- Rev. J. Donald Monan, a president of Boston College for 24 years and a founder of the Mass Mentoring Partnership and MENTOR programs.
- Dr. Thomas F. Frist Jr., founder of the United Way's Tocqueville Society.
- Raymond G. Chambers, founding chairman of the Points of Light Foundation, a volunteer network, and co-founder of MENTOR.