When the National Portrait Gallery announced in February 2001 that it needed
$20 million to keep theLansdowne portrait of George Washington, the children of the Pasadena Independent
School District decided to do something about it. They wanted to save George from
the auction block.
They developed the “By George, We’ve Got It, Help Us Keep It”
campaign to raise funds for the famous
Gilbert Stuart painting. The school district set a goal of one dollar for every
student in PISD, and the children raised an inspiring $4,200 before the Donald
W. Reynolds Foundation donated the needed $20 million. The monies raised by Pasadena
students helped to fund The Patriot Papers.
As a Texas Recognized District for
outstanding student achievement, the Pasadena District has been involved in local
fundraising projects before. Its students contributed to the saving of the Alamo,
the San Jacinto Monument, and the renovation of the battleship Texas. The Lansdowne
portrait, like these other American treasures, is one that the children of Pasadena
hoped to save.
Although most of the children had never seen the
Lansdowne portrait in person, their enthusiasm for saving the national treasure
was high. District spokesman Kirk Lewis also saw great potential in the project:
“This is a teachable moment in terms of our national art history and national
American history. It’s a great way to energize our kids to learn about our
The “By George” campaign began as a local project,
but gained national attention with its call to raise money. The school district
challenged other school districts in the area to join the campaign. Ultimately,
the Pasadena fundraisers hoped to relay the challenge across the nation. Fortunately
for all Americans, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation contributed the needed funds
in March 2001.
Just as George Washington sacrificed his time and energy for the good of the nation,
so too have the children of the Pasadena Independent School District. They have
shown the country that national spirit is alive in our nation’s youth. The
National Portrait Gallery thanks those in Pasadena who contributed to the Lansdowne
portrait campaign. We also encourage all Americans to continue the spirit of giving
in their own communities, school districts, and neighborhoods by joining our current
campaign “Pledge It Forward—Self to Service.” Take your lead
from Pasadena and take time to make a difference.