NGLC Announces Six Regional Funds For ‘Breakthrough’ Schools

NGLC Announces Six Regional Funds For ‘Breakthrough’ Schools

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The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), an initiative from EDUCAUSE, announced the six regional partners that will be part of its 2014 Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools Initiative:

Each of these six organizations will award grants to local educators seeking to build “breakthrough” schools that focus on personalized learning. According to Andy Calkins, Deputy Director of NGLC at EDUCAUSE, these partners were selected “because they were already focused on helping to accelerate the development of personalized learning schools and new school models. Most of them already have innovation networks, and are already working with several districts.”

In total, the awards--which cover planning grants, school grants, pilot initiatives and operating support--will be worth over $25 million. The money comes from several sources. Each of the six organizations will be putting in between $1.8 million and $3 million, in addition to raising local funds. EDUCAUSE, which has received financial support from the Gates, Broad and Dell foundations for NGLC, will also provide funding.

The six partners will design their own competitive grant process and have final say in how the grants are awarded. “We are trying to remove ourselves as the sole catalyst that distributes the support” necessary to build innovative school models, says Calkins. “Our approach here is to recognize that they know their local environments much better than we do, and so they will call the shots on how they reach their communities.”

One of the regional partners, the Rogers Family Foundation, focuses on helping low-income students in Oakland Unified School District. According to its NGLC timeline, the foundation plans on creating up to four new schools. In the second half of 2014, the foundation will go through a “discovery phase” during which it will host public events where educators can learn about designing new school models and the available resources to support such efforts. By March 2015, the foundation will award $600,000 total in planning grants to ten school teams; of this, the three or four teams that show the most promise will receive a combined $1.2 million to launch the schools in 2016.

“We want to be transparent about this process,” says Greg Klein, Senior Director of Innovation and Learning at the Rogers Foundation. “We want as many schools as possible to learn about it and see if this kind of transformation is right for them. We want to say, ‘This is what’s happening, and you’ve got to make sense of it in terms of what your teachers and students need.’”

Once a new school is launched, says Calkins, it will be “part of a multi-year research study that we’ve been working on the Gates Foundation on, and conducted by RAND.” NGLC is slated to release a report on its first cohort of national grantees sometime this fall.

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