Partner Gates Foundation Small High School Initiative, 2003
Project intermediary Big Picture Learning
Start Date 2003-00-00
Notes PRESS ROOM PRESS RELEASES AND STATEMENTS BACK Print New Grant to Expand Options for High School Students Being Left Behind $31 million effort to reach 36,000 young people failed by traditional high schools Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 206-709-3400 follow @gatesfoundation Marie Groark Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Phone: 206.709.3400 Email: BOSTON -- To ensure that fewer of America's high school students are left behind, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today committed more than $31 million to create a nationwide network of 168 alternative schools. The schools will serve students failed by traditional large comprehensive high schools. Other partners in this nationwide effort include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. This grant builds on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's nationwide effort to strengthen America's high schools and ultimately improve graduation rates, particularly for African-American and Hispanic students. "Nearly one-third of American students aren't graduating from high school. This represents nothing short of a massive failure of America's high schools," said Tom Vander Ark, executive director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The good news is that we can reverse this trend. More students will succeed if communities provide a rich variety of education options, and effective alternative schools are one such option." Across the country, America's high school graduation rates have stagnated. According to research conducted by the Manhattan Institute, between the ninth and twelfth grades, more than 1 million students will leave school without earning a diploma. For Hispanics and African Americans, the statistics are grimmer, with only 50 percent graduating. According to the Justice Policy Institute, in 2000, there were more African-American men incarcerated than were in higher education. The faces of the young people behind these stark numbers are diverse. They include immigrants, non-traditional learners, bored and unchallenged adolescents, and students disconnected from their schools and community. "In almost every neighborhood in every city and town across America, we are failing young people. These aren't somebody else's children, they are all of our children," commented Talmira Hill of the Youth Transition Funders Group. Recent studies suggest that despite the well-meaning objectives of accountability initiatives like No Child Left Behind and state-based high stakes testing systems, these policies appear to have had the unintended consequence of pushing thousands of young people out of school and often into the juvenile justice system. Overcrowded urban high schools lack the organizational capacity required to address the variety of issues needed to retain and engage students. Students report feeling bored, unmotivated or simply forgotten. "We need to create educational outlets for young people by building innovative partnerships with private, community-based and philanthropic organizations," said Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston. "When we give our young people options, we provide them with opportunities to achieve new levels of academic success and contribute to the health of our society." Research findings from Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based educational research and advocacy organization, have shown that highly effective high schools embody a similar set of design elements. They foster relationships, have a common focus, emphasize academic rigor for all students, and are often smaller than traditional large comprehensive high schools. Many of these alternative schools are helping to meet the academic needs of young people who otherwise might fall through the cracks. The Center for Youth Development and Education's (CYDE) Diploma Plus high school effectively serves at-risk students by targeting specific learning styles while still requiring students to take traditional core classes and pass the state-mandated assessment exam. Students also participate in a transitional year that includes college courses and an internship. "The purpose of the program is to take high-risk students who are educationally disadvantaged and prepare them for good careers and good earning potential for the future," said Ephraim Weisstein, director of CYDE and vice president of the Commonwealth Corporation. Building on a previous grant to replicate the Minnesota New Country School, these grants will support the efforts of nine intermediary organizations to work with local communities to replicate high-quality alternative schools, expand and improve existing schools, convert programs that offer GEDs into high school diploma-granting schools, and initiate policy and technical assistance efforts. These organizations include: The Big Picture Company, Providence, R.I., (receiving $1.9 million) will serve as the lead intermediary by providing technical assistance for leadership development, personalized curriculum, student work, learning through internships and facilities. Black Alliance of Educational Options, Washington, D.C., (receiving $4 million) will create 15 new high schools. The Commonwealth Corporation, Center for Youth Development and Education, Boston, Mass., (receiving $4.5 million) will transform five schools and create 10 new high schools. Communities in Schools of Georgia, Atlanta, Ga., (receiving $6.3 million) will create 25 new high schools in Georgia. The National Association of Street Schools, Denver, Colo., (receiving $1.1 million) will transform 20 existing schools and create 10 new high schools. The National League of Cities, (receiving $2.29 million) will help stimulate municipal leadership in support of developing alternative high schools in communities around the country. Portland Community College, Portland, Ore., (receiving $4.85 million) will create eight new high schools. The See Forever Foundation & Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Washington, D.C., (receiving $887,500) will transform one existing school and create three new schools. YouthBuild USA¸ Cambridge, Mass., (receiving $5.4 million) will transform 23 existing high schools and create 10 new schools. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is focused on improving the nation's sagging high school graduation rates. The foundation has committed $375 million to expand educational options for high school students by creating new small schools and transforming existing large high schools into smaller learning communities. The effort is complemented by a rigorous evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of the grantmaking and adapt to the changing public education landscape. On the Internet: CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: Big Picture Company Christine Heenan, Communications Phone: 401.225.6607 Black Alliance of Educational Options Andrea Williams, Director of Communications Phone: 301.922.6526 (cell) Commonwealth Corporation, Center for Youth Development and Education Ephraim Weisstein, Vice President Phone: 617.727.8158 Communities in Schools of Georgia Neil Shorthouse, President Phone: 404.888.5784 National Association of Street Schools Wendy Piersee, Executive Director Phone: 720.299.0474 National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families Clifford Johnson, Executive Director Phone: 202.626.3013 Portland Community College Susan Hereford, Public Affairs Phone: 503.977.4421 See Forever Foundation & Maya Angelou Public Charter School David Domenici, Executive Director Phone: 202.939.9080 YouthBuild USA Maria Vugrin, Public Affairs Phone: 617.741.1239 Alternative Schools – Creating Quality Educational Options for All Students Intermediary Grantees Big Picture Company The Big Picture Company is a Rhode Island-based, not-for-profit education reform group founded by educators Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky, who, in 1995, began collaborating with Rhode Island policy-makers to design a student-centered high school. That high school, known as The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (the Met), is dedicated to educating "one student at a time" through real-world learning experiences known as 'Learning Through Internships.' The first Met opened in downtown Providence in 1996. In 1999, a second Met opened in Providence, and, in 2002, four additional Met schools opened on a central campus, which also includes a fitness center, a performance space and a state-of-the-art technology center. The Big Picture Company has become a launching pad for a national movement, and, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has used its design of the Met as a basis for the development of similar schools across the country. In September 2002, Big Picture Schools opened in El Dorado, Calif. and Oakland, Calif., and two schools opened in Federal Way, Wash. This year, Big Picture Schools are set to open in Chicago, Denver, Detroit and Sacramento. With the help of a grant from the Noyce Foundation, the Big Picture Company will continue to study the process of generating and sustaining Big Picture Schools around the country. Contact: Christine Heenan, 401-225-6607 Web site: http: Black Alliance of Educational Options The Black Alliance for Educational Options, which announced its formation on August 24, 2000, actively supports parental choice to empower families and increase educational options for black children. BAEO looks to educate and inform the general public about parent choice initiatives, and to create, promote and support efforts to empower black parents to exercise choice. BAEO, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., has chapters in several cities throughout the country. Contact: Andrea Williams, 301-922-6526 Web site: Commonwealth Corporation, Center for Youth Development and Education The goal of the Center for Youth Development and Education (CYDE) is to enable young people to make successful transitions to adulthood and become vital contributors to their communities. CYDE, based in Boston, is a division of the Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public organization specializing in workforce development, education reform and business modernization. CYDE works at both the program and policy levels and in partnership with schools and school districts, businesses, colleges and universities, workforce investment boards, community organizations, and other state and local stakeholders to expand learning and career development opportunities for youth. Through efforts such as Diploma Plus, CYDE is serving those who are most at risk of not completing high school, entering post-secondary education or training, or acquiring the skills necessary for success in the demanding, high-skills economy of the 21st century. Contact: Ephraim Weisstein, 617-727-8158 Web site: Communities in Schools of Georgia Communities in Schools (CIS) of Georgia is part of a national network that helps kids succeed in school and prepare for life. CIS delivers programs and services to local communities and their school districts by using a community development approach to unify and organize a community's resources around children, families and schools. Communities sponsoring CIS programs have seen an increase in their school completion rates, a decrease in violence and disruptions, and an increase in attendance and academic achievement. CIS's newest initiative is a network of nontraditional high schools known as Performance Learning Centers (PLCs). PLCs offer a new learning option to local Georgia communities and their high school students who are not succeeding in traditional school settings and are at risk of dropping out. Staff members guide students in the development of career and personal life plans, including marketable skills in preparation for college or employment upon graduation. Participants have opportunities to benefit from technical college training, project-based learning, and work or college internships. CIS's Performance Learning Center initiative promises a new chance for success for many Georgia high school students whose potential is still unrealized. Contact: Neil Shorthouse, 404-888-5784 Web site: National Association of Street Schools The National Association of Street Schools, a Denver-based nonprofit, is working nationwide to meet the challenge of at-risk youth by developing a network of schools that provide personalized, comprehensive education, a moral code, and tools for self-sufficiency. The Street School Model was developed at the Denver Street School over a period of 18 years and has been replicated across the country. Street schools employ a "whatever it takes" attitude toward helping students living in the urban core. According to graduate Craig Patterson, who now holds a college degree and is a vice president in the mortgage industry: "The Street School is like a second home to me. It not only gave me an education, but a moral code to live by. It taught me how to live my life." Contact: Wendy Piersee, 720-299-0474 Web site: National League of Cities The National League of Cities (NLC) is the oldest and largest national organization representing municipal governments throughout the United States. Its mission is to strengthen and promote cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. Working in partnership with 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a national resource to and advocate for the more than 18,000 cities, villages and towns it represents. Today, the unique partnership among NLC, the 49 state municipal leagues, and the elected leaders of the 1,700 member cities and 18,000 state league cities provides a powerful network for information sharing and for speaking on behalf of America's cities in Washington, D.C. and all state capitols. NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within NLC, seeks to strengthen the capacity of municipal leaders to address the needs of children, youth and families in their own communities. Contact: Clifford Johnson, 202-626-3013 Web site: Portland Community College Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving approximately 105,000 full- and part-time students annually in a variety of programs. PCC offers two-year degree and certificate programs in college transfer and professional and technical education; short-term job training; high school completion; GED; and lifelong learning. The college boasts three comprehensive campuses, four workforce training centers and approximately 200 community locations throughout its five-county district. Last year, Portland Community College's alternative high school programs served almost 1,500 students. The college has built strong partnerships with K-12 school districts and highly values its collaboration with local high schools and middle schools to help ensure success for all students. PCC President Jesus "Jess" Carreon said: "We are extremely pleased to receive this grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Access and opportunity for post-secondary education are priorities for PCC. The grant will allow us to expand our goal of preparing high school students for college." Contact: Susan Hereford, 503-977-4421 Web site: See Forever Foundation See Forever's mission is to create learning environments in lower-income urban communities where teens, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential. Through the Maya Angelou Public Charter School and other See Forever programs, students develop the academic, social and employment skills they need to build rewarding lives and promote positive change in their communities. See Forever participants take part in activities year round—for 10.5 hours per day during the traditional school year, and for six to eight hours per day during the summer. They attend school, learn job skills in one of two nonprofit businesses, and take part in activities ranging from internships to tutoring to counseling to summer exposure programs. Despite the obstacles they face, these teens are working hard and succeeding. On average, graduates significantly improve their standardized test scores, grades and attendance. In addition, over 70 percent of graduates enroll in college. Contact: David Domenici, 202-939-9080 Web site: YouthBuild USA Founded in 1990, YouthBuild USA is a national nonprofit organization that supports a nationwide network of more than 200 local YouthBuild programs. In YouthBuild programs, unemployed and undereducated young people ages 16-24 work toward their GED or high school diploma while learning construction skills by building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people. Strong emphasis is placed on leadership development, community service and the creation of a positive mini-community of adults and youth committed to success. Since 1994, more than 25,000 young people have helped rebuild their communities, transform their lives and create more than 10,000 units of affordable housing. YouthBuild USA was recently recognized by Worth magazine as one of the top 100 nonprofits in the United States. Contact: Maria Vugrin, 617-741-1239 Web site: Partner Organizations Annie E. Casey Foundation The Annie E. Casey Foundation was established in 1948 by Jim Casey, one of the founders of United Parcel Service, and his siblings, George, Harry and Marguerite, who named the philanthropy in honor of their mother. Its mission is to build better futures and improve outcomes for disadvantaged children who are at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. In 1998, the foundation began a decade of work called Making Connections, which aims to restore the strong connections between vulnerable families and the circumstances that are vital to building stronger families and more supportive neighborhoods. These bedrock conditions are ones that most middle-class families have come to expect as a birthright: opportunities to work, earn a decent living and build assets; social networks that help isolated families link with friends and neighbors as well as social, civic and faith institutions; and accessible and responsive public services, such as good health care, decent schools, and fair and effective law enforcement. The "vision for success" that directs the Casey Foundation's investments in the area of education is that all young people, especially those in tough neighborhoods, will attend responsive and effective schools that strengthen families and neighborhoods by supporting the aspirations that families have for their children and by preparing these young people for success in the worlds of work, family and citizenship. Its investments in The Big Picture Company, the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the See Forever Foundation have been part of its support for community-based and system-wide efforts that strengthen families and neighborhoods by making connections between schools, families and communities. Contact: Bruno Manno, 410-547-6600 Web site: Walter S. Johnson Foundation The Walter S. Johnson Foundation, a family foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., was founded in 1968 by Walter S. Johnson. His descendants continue to run the foundation as members of the Board of Trustees. The foundation invests $5 million a year in programs in Northern California and in Reno, Nev. that help children and youth reach their full potential. The foundation's grants reflect its two main goals: ensuring the well being of children and youth, and strengthening public education. By doing so, it aims to assist young people in their transition to adulthood. Contact: Denis Udall, 650-326-0485 Web site: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Mich. by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grants are focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways Out of Poverty. The foundation, with estimated year-end assets of $2 billion, made 606 grants totaling $110 million in 2002. Contact: Chris Sturgis, 810-766-1754 Web site: W.K. Kellogg Foundation The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by cereal industry pioneer W.K. Kellogg in 1930. The foundation's mission is to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations. Since its beginning, the foundation has continuously focused on building the capacity of individuals, communities and institutions to solve their own problems. The foundation has funded the National Association of Street Schools. Contact: Miguel Satut, 269-969-2195 Web site: