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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Business Alliance and Wyoming Heritage Foundation have created a new initiative where business people across the state will be able to help improve public education.

Wyoming Excels was officially launched during Gov. Matt Mead's Business Forum at Cheyenne.

"Wyoming Excels is about business engaging with educators," said Fred von Ahrens, the volunteer chairman of the initiative.

Von Ahrens is vice president of manufacturing for Tronox, a company in Green River that mines trona and makes soda ash. He also is vice chairman of the Wyoming Business Alliance/Wyoming Heritage Foundation.

"This initiative will allow us to get a seat at the table to support the education system," he said, and be a partner to improve education.

"It's all about the outcomes for our children, so they become outstanding citizens and employees," he told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (http://bit.ly/2fY0asQ). "It's about accountability in the system, transparency in funding and return on investment and student outcomes."

Business people can help in various ways, including serving as mentors, von Ahrens said.

Von Ahrens said the Daniels Fund and the John P. Ellbogen Foundation each donated money for a three-year grant totaling $510,000 to support Wyoming Excels.

"This is an outstanding opportunity," von Ahrens said. "We are honored by the confidence these foundations have put in our organizations."

Karren "Sparky" Turner of the Daniels Fund said Wyoming Excels will help build an educational system "that will assure the well-educated, skilled, productive workforce and citizenry."

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