WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - January 21, 2008) - The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is pleased to announce a new graduate grant program that will enable its National Scholar alumni to pursue graduate and doctoral degree programs. The Horatio Alger "American Excellence Graduate Grant Program" was made possible by a $10 million donation provided by Chairman and Lifetime Association Member Dennis Washington and his wife Phyllis. The program will award up to $20,000 annually per scholar.

"The Association is honored by Dennis and Phyllis Washington's generosity for providing this additional level of educational support for our National Scholars," Association President and CEO Joseph Neubauer said. "This new program builds upon the existing Horatio Alger mission of providing scholarships by adding another important element. We are proud to reward those with the passion and commitment to undertake graduate-level work."

"It is important to encourage scholars of all ages to reach beyond their dreams," Washington stated. "Giving deserving students the opportunity to further educate themselves will not only benefit them as individuals, but will contribute to society as a whole."

Based on his own humble beginnings, Dennis Washington, Chairman of Washington Group International and Founder of The Washington Companies, has truly personified the Horatio Alger Member. He has overcome adversity to achieve great American success. As a child living in Bremerton, Washington, he suffered from polio and poverty, but his determination to succeed, even at a young age, enabled him to overcome both. He was inspired to become a successful young entrepreneur despite having to constantly migrate around three states and several schools. By age 26, he became vice president of the largest construction company in Montana and then proceeded to create his own company, Washington Construction, which within years would become one of the largest in the nation. In 1996, Washington Construction acquired the global construction and engineering company Morrison-Knudsen Corporation of Boise, Idaho, creating Washington Group International. His other private businesses, the Washington Companies, comprise more than a dozen affiliated companies, including the largest privately owned railroad in the U.S.

In 1988, Washington and his wife Phyllis founded the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. $70 million has been donated to charitable causes through both the Foundation and the Washingtons' personal contributions.

In addition to charity, community service and the arts, the Washingtons have dedicated their lives to investing in American education. They have made several donations to create scholarships for the Horatio Alger Association including the Dennis R. Washington Horatio Alger Association Graduate Fellowship, The Helen B. Miller Horatio Alger Scholarship, and the Horatio Alger Montana Undergraduate Scholarship Program.

The "American Excellence Graduate Grant Program" application and qualifications will be available online at www.horatioalger.org/scholars from January 15-March 15, 2008. Finalists will be notified in April and will be required to complete a personal interview in Washington, D.C., in May. The first American Excellence Graduate Grant recipients will be announced in May 2008.

About The Horatio Alger Association

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans continues to fulfill its mission of honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. The Horatio Alger Association offers three annual scholarship programs totaling $12 million annually: the National Scholarship Program and various state scholarship programs for high school seniors and the Horatio Alger Military Veterans Scholarship Program for U.S. veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. For more information about the scholarships, please visit www.horatioalger.org.

Contact Information: Contact: Carrie Blewitt Qorvis Communications 703-744-7816 cblewitt@qorvis.com