New principal Karen Linn said she was astounded to discover a 30-year partnership between School 46 and Kroger, the Ohio-based grocery chain, after taking a new job leading the Southwest-side school last year.

The school is awaiting a new shipment of 137 laptop computers to help support its digital lessons thanks to a donation from Kroger. And this year 43 kids will receive a $500 college scholarship from the company.

Today the company continued its trend of supporting local education efforts by announcing $1.8 million in grants to Indianapolis Public Schools and education groups for 2015, including another $70,000 for School 46. The awards are part of the company’s three-year, $5.3 million program to support education in Indianapolis.

“It’s unbelievable,” Linn said after she accepted a giant check from the company today at IPS headquarters downtown. “It’s an amazing partnership. My kids are so blessed to have it. We just can’t be more proud of the students and what that’s going to mean for them as they go to college.”

Nearly 80 percent of School 46’s students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The school earned a B last year from the state because of its test score growth.

Kroger also announced today a new partnership with John Marshall High School. The company will “adopt” the school and try to increase opportunities for students after graduation, Kroger spokesman John Elliott said.

The grants went to several nonprofits, government organizations and others devoted to improving education. Among the bigger gifts were:

  • $140,000 per year to Teachers Treasures, which partners with local schools to give teachers donated classroom supplies
  • $50,000 per year to support United Way of Central Indiana’s ReadUp program
  • $50,000 per year for Project SEED’s math skills program
  • $50,000 per year to Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Central Indiana Community Foundation’s summer youth program.

Kroger President Jeff Burt said the company has decided to support local education efforts as an investment in the future of its workforce.

“As state governments and local communities across Indiana and Illinois drive significant change and unprecedented community dialogues related to education,” Burt said, “the mix of stakeholders who truly care about and rely on successful, high-quality, student-centric education continues to grow.

Kroger was one of the first companies IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee met with when he arrived in Indianapolis almost two years ago. He said he is grateful for the continued support of the company in his effort to match Indiana businesses with struggling schools.

Ferebee launched the IPS Business Alliance last year to match companies up to donate to and volunteer at priority schools. Kroger will work with John Marshall High School through that effort.

“It’s not just about writing checks,” Ferebee said. “Kroger dedicates a lot of hours and time. They’re a great partner.”