Once, Washington’s image was a fixture in American schools – his portrait hung with pride and respect, inspiring generations of American schoolchildren. Most of those portraits were distributed in 1932, the bicentennial of Washington’s birth. But eight decades later, his image has all but disappeared. Worse, the disappearance of Washington’s portrait corresponds to a decline in the amount of textbook space dedicated to George Washington, his many achievements, and the overall importance of our nation's founding era.
Mount Vernon launched the George Washington Portrait Program in 2007 with the objective of returning Washington’s portrait to schools, driven by the belief that his restored presence would inspire teachers and students alike. Each school that requests a portrait will receive from Mount Vernon – for FREE – Rembrandt Peale’s “porthole portrait” on canvas, set off by an elegant gold-leaf frame and a small bronze label plate. Every school also receives a Celebration Kit, which includes lesson plans, teacher resource materials and an American flag that has flown over Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon's goal for this project is to provide a free portrait and Celebration Kit for each and every school that requests one. In fact, our only requirement is that the school's principal must submit a request letter to Mount Vernon, because we want to be sure that the portrait will be prominently displayed. We provide a sample template letter on this website, so it is very easy for the school. We are approaching some 5,000 requests from school principals around the country and, with your help, we can achieve this lofty goal.
You can make your $275 donation in two ways – your undesignated gift provides funds to cover any school requesting a portrait to receive their free portrait and Celebration Kit. Or you can make a $275 designated gift for the specific school of your choice to receive a free portrait (perhaps it's your child's school, your grandchild's school or your alma mater). They will receive their portrait when their principal sends a request letter (see Example School Request Letter or Frequently Asked Questions). Your designated gift links you personally to that school, and it allows our unrestricted pool of funds to benefit the countless schools that have no generous sponsor like you.
Like any gift to Mount Vernon, your donation can be made by check, credit card, or the transfer of securities. All gifts are tax-deductible under the limits allowed by law.
Note: A gift of $2,500 distributes 14 portraits and a gift of $5,000 delivers 28 portraits!