The Richardson Independent School District Adopt-A-School program, Partners in Progress, allows Lake Highlands businesses to become involved in public education.

More than 60 businesses in the Richardson area have adopted 42 RISD elementary, middle and high schools.

JC Penney, Northern Telecom and Burger King are just a few of the companies that provide volunteers, supplies and money to the schools.

American Federal Bank, 8608 Skillman, has adopted Northlake Elementary School, 10059 Ravensway.

“We adopted Northlake because we feel businesses need to help the local schools, and we want to reinvest in the community,” says American Federal’s Beverly Barrage.

American Federal employees visit the elementary school weekly and read with the kindergarten, first and second graders for one year. The company’s employees also participate in and attend many of the school’s functions, including the cultural arts fair and carnival.

They donate supplies and handle bulk mailings, and each month, the bank treats two Northlake teachers to lunch. During the school year, students’ art work hangs in the bank lobby.

Next year, American Federal plans to assist the school with a program where students borrow money for a fund-raising project. The bank also is planning a program to teach children how to open and maintain a savings account.

“Probably the most important contribution is the reading program,” says Northlake principal Kay Shickles.

“For a small bank (the American Federal branch employs six people), they have been an excellent adopter. We feel we can ask them for anything, and their presence at the school really makes an impact on the kids.”

The level of involvement is left up to the adopter. Participation can range from sponsoring a science fair, to rewarding students with good attendance, to helping out in the library.

A written contract provides the details outlining the adoption. Schools can be adopted by more than one business, and each adoption is reviewed annually to provide the business and the school the opportunity to recommit to the program, or to change or cancel their adoption contract.

A number of Lake Highlands schools don’t have adopters. Businesses interested in adopting a school should contact Smith at the RISD administration building.