Innovative School Designs to Accelerate Student Learning Is Aim of New Investments in Entrepreneurs

Grantees in this story

New York, New York, July 21, 2010—“If we as a nation are serious about offering all students the education they need to compete in a global economy—and deserve as citizens—we must seriously raise our expectations about student achievement and take whatever steps are necessary to replace dogma with solutions that will provide America’s students with the highest level of educational excellence,” Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian said today in announcing $10 million in new grants to support nonprofit educational entrepreneurs to create new school, college and education system designs and bring them to scale.  

Gregorian continued, “This is a moment of urgency and opportunity for education reform.  We must invest in increasing the supply and strengthening the capacity of the non-profit entrepreneurial organizations whose vision, sense of passion and commitment to finding new solutions to daunting problems compels them to innovate—using evidence but taking risks—when designing educational systems and strategies.” 

A $5 million grant to the NewSchools Venture Fund will invest in building non-profit entrepreneurial organizations capable of closing the achievement gap for underserved children.  With this latest grant the Corporation will have awarded more than $7.2 million to the venture philanthropy fund in the past 18 months.

A $2.5 million award to the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, a new nonprofit organization, to work with state and higher education administrations to build the expertise and technical capacity to implement new education reforms at scale.

A $2.5 million grant to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to develop a one-year mathematics pathway structured especially to serve community college students planning to transfer and continue further studies in the humanities or social sciences.

The grants announced today are part Carnegie Corporation’s strategy of identifying and supporting new designs that address the inherent weaknesses in education systems including low expectations and weak curricula, incoherent management systems, limited talent pools and capacity-building strategies, entrenched school models that prevent innovation, weak instructional practices and systems of support, and isolation and failure to benefit from external resources.

In addition to the grants announced today, the Corporation intends to invest in education entrepreneurs with transformative school design proposals it identifies via the Foundation i3 Registry.  The online tool was created by a group of 12 foundations to make it easier for winning applicants to the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) competition to secure matching funds.

The online registry creates efficiencies for funders and applicants.  Applicants need to fill out only one application; foundations can spot proposals that are consistent with their funding priorities; and funders can identify opportunities to collaborate on particular projects. Final funding decisions are still made by individual foundations.

The registry can also be used by participating foundations to identify and fund projects that are promising but do not win DOE i3 funding.

NewSchools Venture Fund ($5 million)

Carnegie Corporation’s investment in NewSchools will go toward an Innovation Fund to build entrepreneurial organizations to close the achievement gap for underserved students.  The Corporation’s priorities of strengthening human capital, developing new designs for school systems and building data-driven accountability systems are reflected in the Innovations Fund’s three investment targets:
* People: educator training providers who increase the pipeline of teacher and leader talent and define their performance – and the performance of those they train – in terms of impact on student achievement.
* Tools: technology-enabled products, platforms, and services that help educators improve instruction, enable customized student learning, or otherwise maximize student achievement.
* Schools:  including school turnarounds: organizations that take over and turn around chronically failing schools; and Charter Management Organizations (CMOs), which create scalable, sustainable school systems.

U.S. Education Delivery Institute ($2.5 million)

The U.S. Education Delivery Institute (USEDI), launched in May 2010 by the Education Trust and Achieve, both current foundation grantees, and founded by Sir Michael Barber, former head of the U.K. Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, will focus on translating system reform plans into real student outcomes.  USEDI will supply a set of tools and a framework for leaders in K-12 and higher education so that reform policies have their desired impact: dramatic improvements in student outcomes.

Sir Michael Barber and his team will adapt and apply a proven approach to public sector management—delivery—that is widely credited with helping U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government meet its policy targets for a range of public services. 

At the heart of the USEDI approach is a set of tools, processes, and a common language for implementation. Key features include prioritizing clear goals, understanding how services reach various constituents, projecting anticipated progress towards goals, gauging impact through real-time data, and regularly taking stock to intervene when necessary.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ($2.5 million)

The California-based foundation, in partnership with the Dana Center at the University of Texas, Austin, has developed and will implement at 16 community colleges a project to redesign developmental education by creating an integrated pathway to and through statistics. The year-long Statistics Pathway (Statway) focuses on statistics, data analysis and quantitative reasoning—the math skills that will help students understand the world around them and that they can apply immediately in continued course work or on the job.  The innovative new design of Statway also integrates recommendations from the landmark report Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy.

Other Recent School Design Grants
New Tech Network ($2 million/December 2009) to help the high school development organization expand its capacity to serve the increasing number of schools integrating technology and instruction, and using project-based learning to equip students with the know-how—including math and science skills—to enter and succeed in today’s economy.  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.

Our Piece of the Pie ($1.3 million/December 2009) to advocate for, and implement a strategy to re-engage young people who have fallen behind or have dropped out of high school.  The Connecticut-based organization will grow it’s youth development strategy into a standards-based academic high school for getting over-aged and under-credited students back on track to earn a high school diploma, and be successful in post-secondary education and careers. 

Gateway to College ($1 million/December 2009) to expand a program that serves 16- to 20-year-old students who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. Gateway to College puts them on a track to complete their high school diploma while simultaneously earning credits toward an associate’s degree or certificate at local community and technical colleges. Most of the students are members of a minority group and from low-income homes, and will be the first in their families to go to college.  Gateway to College’s success is due to a combination of intensive academic and non-academic supports, and can be an important model for community colleges nationwide that are struggling with sky-high remedial rates. Nationally, as many as two-thirds of all community college students enter with inadequate academic skills.

National Center on Time and Learning ($750,000/March 2009) to provide research, policy and technical support to public schools as they redesign and expand learning time to improve student achievement. When the school day is redesigned to add 300 more hours per year for all students, the results are often significant gains across all tested subjects.  With a focus on transformation in middle schools, NCTL will create an expanded learning “time-centric” school turnaround model and serve as a national clearinghouse for expanded time best practices.