Starr hopes to raise $100k for Philly schools

Philadelphia restauranteur Stephen Starr, left, and Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite answer questions about Starr's Support Our Schools program where he asks all of the patrons in all of his restaurants if they'd like to make a donation to the Philadelphia School District. ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

If you dine at any Stephen Starr restaurant (like Parc, Buddakan, Morimoto, Talula's Garden) in the next four weeks, be prepared for the upsell - not to a pricier bottle of wine, but to donate to the Philadelphia School District.

Starr on Tuesday announced he was making a $25,000 donation to the district, hoping to spur $100,000 in donations from his patrons over the next four weeks.

"Every check that we print will ask politely for a donation," Starr said at a news conference.

Starr said he was struck by Mayor Nutter's call to the business community to help the district. And when he perused the website Donors Choose, with many district teachers making direct pleas for funding for things like a rug for a classroom or books for an afterschool program, he was sold.

"It struck me how sad that was," said Starr. "I said, 'You know, we should do something.'"

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., himself a frequent patron at Starr restaurants, he said, hailed the campaign as "incredible."

The money will go to fund three programs - multimedia labs in classrooms, internships for high school students, and "socialized recess" efforts - essentially, paying for coaches who help organize activities at elementary schools during recess to help keep playgrounds calm and safe.

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