NGLC Funding Hits $25M for 49 “Breakthrough Schools”

By
Mary Jo Madda

Here’s a different sort of Ka’Ching for your week. The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), an initiative from EDUCAUSE which has worked with regional partners over the years to bring innovation to schools with the help of local partners, announced today that its funding of new school models for 2015 and 2016 has hit $25 million in grants, predominantly distributed to schools and districts through its six regional site partners.

According to NGLC Deputy Director Andy Calkins, each partner organization has invested or is investing between $1.8 million and $3 million in local design teams to generate new or conversion schools. The six partners are CityBridge Foundation (Washington, D.C.); The Colorado Education Initiative (Denver, Co.); LEAP Innovations (Chicago, Ill.); New Schools for New Orleans; New England Secondary School Consortium (working in five New England states); and the Rogers Family Foundation (Oakland, Calif.).

This funding will result in a total of 49 new or redesigned schools, with Chicago’s LEAP Innovations being the final partner to announce where and to whom the money will go. With the support of the six organizations, 29 redesigned or new K­-12 schools are scheduled to open by this coming fall. By the fall of 2016, that number will increase to nearly 50 breakthrough schools serving more than 25,000 students across ten states.

Money isn’t being distributed to schools as straight, no-strings-attached grants; some grantees are receiving funds in the form of additional supports such as coaching, professional development opportunities and technology support. For example, the Rogers Family Foundation in Oakland has brought in Mastery Design Collaborative, a nonprofit K-12 education service organization, to help design PD workshops and online modules to support Oakland USD in bringing personalized learning to several of its schools.

Whether or not the 28 schools set to launch in a few months will be fully ready to open their doors is a different story. But Calkins is optimistic, especially when it comes to human capital: “I’m sure they’d all say we have a lot to do over the summer, as is anyone contemplating a big move. But there’s a lot of proactive development of teacher workforce.”

While NGLC isn’t giving the money directly to these schools, Calkins explains that he and his team have several initiatives in the works intended to support the schools more directly. For example, the Next Gen Assessment Network is a new Gates/Hewlett funded initiative to “explore and clarify productive roles for assessment in personalized learning.” The NGLC Labs, which is a working title for a project already underway, is an effort to generate tools and resources for use by educators looking to “migrate towards next gen learning.”

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