(This is a corrected version of an article published in the March 21, 2012, issue. The correction appears at the end of the story.)
Résumé: Co-founder of the education nonprofit Santa Fe for Students. Former executive vice president in charge of operations of Bell & Howell technical schools. Former owner of automotive trade school Michigan Career Institute. Served in the Air Force in the 1950s. Geology major at Princeton.
CALL FOR HELP At Salazar Elementary School in sun-scorched Santa Fe, N.M., 99 percent of the students are considered “economically disadvantaged.” Some of the children never have visited a playground before starting kindergarten. Others never have seen a doctor. In 1997 the principal lamented how many children came from broken and struggling homes during a luncheon with members of the United Church of Santa Fe. Lucky for her, Bill Carson ’50 and his wife, Georgia, were there, listening closely.
BOOKS FOR ALL For the past 40 years, the Carsons have been committed to education, from Carson’s management of Bell & Howell schools to his automotive trade school for low-income, high-risk students in Detroit. “I’ve always been involved with low-income students,” Carson says. “I came to realize early on that a lot of the difficulties blamed on schools are society’s problems.” So when the couple heard about the challenges faced by students at Salazar Elementary, they set out to help. In the fall of 1997, the Carsons launched the Salazar Partnership and recruited retirees from their church to volunteer as tutors and mentors. Since then, the group has registered as a nonprofit organization and grown to 75 volunteers who tutor children and assist teachers in class in two elementary schools — Salazar and nearby Agua Fria — under the new banner Santa Fe for Students. With Bill running the business end of things and Georgia organizing the volunteers, they have secured funding for school nurses and on-site dental screenings for students, and have given out roughly 3,000 free books a year. Santa Fe for Students has an annual budget of $175,000.
SANTA FE AND BEYOND “Schools have been given the responsibility of raising kids, and they don’t have the resources to do it,” Carson says. His goal this year is for Santa Fe for Students to become an affiliate of the national nonprofit Communities in Schools. If that happens, he says, “our hope would be to grow to more schools in Santa Fe, and maybe [across] New Mexico.” By Laura Dannen Redman ’03
For the record
This version corrects an error in the spelling of Santa Fe.