Carnegie Corporation of New York Supports School Districts in Redesigning Schools to Meet Higher Standards

Grantees in this story

Carnegie Corporation of New York today announced $10 million in grants to four school districts, part of its $28 million, multi-year Opportunity by Design initiative. These grants will help school districts design and open new high schools that support all students in meeting the demands of the Common Core.

“These districts have the commitment to reshape high schools so that all students can meet more rigorous standards,” said Michele Cahill, vice-president, National Program, and director of urban education at Carnegie Corporation. “By taking on the challenge to ‘do school differently’ they will provide important examples to the country.”

The grantee districts are:

  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District, $3 million over three years to design and open two new high schools;
  • Denver Public Schools, $1 million over two years to design and open one new high school and create a model district ecosystem that supports school design;
  • New York City Department of Education, $3 million over three years to design and open two new high schools;
  • School District of Philadelphia, $3 million over three years to design and open two new high schools.


Opportunity by Design seizes on an important national opportunity: the adoption by 45 states of standards that are closely aligned with 21stcentury expectations for college and career. The standards—known as the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics—have the potential to usher in a new era in American education, in which schools prepare all students for the type of postsecondary learning that will increasingly be required in the global economy. 

 “Schools need to change to meet these higher standards, and to help students accelerate their learning,” said Leah Hamilton, Program Director for New Designs for K-16 Pathways program at Carnegie Corporation, and co-author of the paper Opportunity by Design: New School Models for Student Success. “Strong school designs can help more students fill in knowledge gaps—even as standards become tougher. These districts are willing to take on that challenge, and Carnegie is supporting them with resources, and equally important, with help in implementing the design principles that research supports as crucial to powerful school models.”

 “This effort will ensure that students are prepared to be successful in college and careers, while building capacity in the system to provide high quality schools,” said Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

 Drawing from evidence of what works in youth development and school organization, and from emerging tools and structures that enable greater personalization for each student, Opportunity by Design features Carnegie’s 10 Integrated School Design Principles, which present a comprehensive approach to rethinking what a school should be able to provide for each student.

The Opportunity by Design grants will help each district learn about the Design Principles, tap into expertise in their communities, and design new school models that meet the needs of students while accelerating learning towards college readiness. Each selected district will also engage in activities to support the new schools—the first of which are expected to open in September 2014–and to scale best practices across their schools.

In January, the Corporation also announced a $5 million grant to launch Springpoint, a new national school design institute that will catalyze this work and provide support to grantee districts. The Corporation board has approved another $13 million dollars towards the Opportunity by Design initiative in the upcoming fiscal year.

 About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation's agenda focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.