Carnegie Corporation to Support Scaling Up of Education Innovation

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New York, April 29, 2010 — Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced that the grantmaker is one of 12 foundation that will invest $506 million to stimulate and support innovations in the classroom, in school designs and system improvements to advance student learning.  Carnegie expects a portion of its funds will be used to match strong proposals to the U.S. Department of Education’s  $650 million  Investing in Innovation (I3) program.  The Corporation and other foundations have committed to dramatically improve student learning outcomes through innovation in education.

Read the multi-foundation announcement.

Commenting on the Department of Education’s efforts to build upon longstanding investments by Carnegie Corporation and other education funders, Vartan Gregorian said, “We applaud U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as he joins Carnegie Corporation and other funders in indentifying and supporting organizations with innovative, entrepreneurial strategies that are helping students perform with high levels of creative, scientific and technical knowledge and skills needed to compete in a global economy.”

Carnegie Corporation will seek to identify and fund proposals for new products, platforms and new types of organizations—including non-profit education entrepreneurs—to scale up innovations, including those that would result in more, and more effective math and science teachers in high need schools. 

Carnegie Corporation’s response to nonprofit organizations requesting matching funds, as required by the Department of Education’s i3 program, will be informed by its longstanding and refined strategy for fostering the innovation education sector.

Carnegie Corporation and 11 other foundations have agreed to examine investment opportunities they receive via a new multi-foundation online application platform called the Foundation Registry i3.  The new online application platform aims to simplify the private funding application process for potential grantees and increase access and visibility for new, especially smaller, applicants. It also aims to improve the ability for foundations to examine investment opportunities and better coordinate efforts with the Department of Education around the i3 Program.  While Carnegie Corporation will review proposals submitted via the new online registry, it will continue to adhere to its own decision-making authority to determine which programs fit within its investment strategies.  

The Corporation’s innovation investments will include a focus on new designs that address the challenges of bringing those students that most schools have given up on to high levels of achievement and graduation often via alternative approaches which emphasize alternative pathways to graduation.  To catalyze these changes, the foundation’s identifies non-profit organizations, often with an entrepreneurial approach to their work, to introduce innovation in school design, including higher standards of what should be taught and learned and quality data systems and accessibility of data to practitioners.

Two grants that exemplify Carnegie Corporation’s approach to fostering the innovation in the education sector are awards made to the New Tech Network ($2,000,000) and The New Teacher Project ($3,000,000).

The New Teacher Project works with districts and states to better evaluate teachers, retain the most effective ones, improve average performers, remove the least effective, and develop all teachers to their highest potential.  To effect these changes, The New Teacher Project creates human-capital management systems—including differentiated professional development linked to meaningful evaluations, compensation, and retention or dismissal polices—for determining which new teachers advance in the profession, and which do not.

New Tech Network supports the start-up and implementation of innovative high schools marked by project-based learning in a technology-rich environment. There are now 40 New Tech High Schools in nine states, and plans call for the rapid expansion of New Tech schools over the next five years.  Unlike students in traditional high schools where most teachers lecture and use textbooks as a teaching approach, teachers in New Tech high schools design rigorous, real-world projects tied to state and district standards, customizing them to their location and the interests of students. The result: a classroom environment where students are deeply engaged in learning and develop important skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.

Michele Cahill, Carnegie’s Vice-President, National Programs and Program Director, Urban Education, said that support for innovative new designs for schools and systems and investments in effective approaches for increasing the skills and quality of the K-12 workforce are core goals of the foundation’s work to create pathways to educational and economic opportunities. “By integrating technology and instruction, and using project-based learning, the New Tech model equips students with the know-how—including math and science skills—to enter and succeed in today’s economy.”

Cahill continued, “We hope to also identify—via the i3 registry—organizations that are working to ensure that decisions at the classroom, school, and district level are increasingly informed by qualitative and quantitative data.”