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SEATTLE, WA— In recognition of transformative work happening in communities across the country, and to help expand access to a high quality education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announces grants totaling nearly $25 million for seven cities: Boston, Denver, Hartford (CT), New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Spring Branch (TX). These communities are part of a group of 16 cities which have signed District-Charter Collaboration Compacts – plans for bold collaboration between public charter and district public schools.
The foundation’s investment enables these communities to continue scaling and working on initiatives including:
joint professional development for teachers in charter and district schools;
implementing the Common Core State Standards with aligned instructional tools and supports for teachers;
creating personalized learning experiences for students;
universal enrollment system for all public schools in a city; and
common metrics to help families evaluate all schools on consistent criteria.
Strategies like these advance college readiness for students in all types of schools and support the foundation’s strategic focus on ensuring all students have a high-quality education.
“The goal is to support these communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high-performing schools. These cities understand that opening the lines of communication and sharing best practices across schools are an effective way to do that,” said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They have moved beyond the question of whether charters or district schools are better and are working together to benefit all students in these communities. These cities serve as models for what collaboration can do, and we applaud these local leaders for their commitment to advancing college readiness.”
Since 2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in District-Charter Collaboration Compacts in Austin; Baltimore; Boston; Central Falls (RI); Chicago; Denver; Hartford, (CT); Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Nashville; New Orleans; New York City; Philadelphia; Rochester (NY); Sacramento; and Spring Branch (TX). In these cities, public charter and district school leaders, teachers, superintendents, and other community partners, such as mayors and local teachers’ unions or school board members, are working together to ensure all students in their communities receive a high-quality education that prepares them for college and career.
The District-Charter Collaboration Compacts were designed to address issues that have often led to tensions between public charter and traditional schools, such as access to equitable funding and facilities and whether charter schools are open to all students, including those with special needs and English Language Learners. Through a mix of accountability and collaboration – and pledging to share resources and best practices – Compact cities are working through many of these issues.
“When schools and leaders in communities work together, learn from each other, share resources, best practices and sometimes even facilities, collectively we have a better chance at improving the educational opportunities for all children,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “We applaud these cities for helping to lead the way and look forward to continuing to learn from their efforts and collaboration to benefit more students throughout the country.”
Previously, each Compact city was awarded $100,000 when the Compacts were signed. The competitive grant program for Compact cities was announced in December 2011 and all 16 Compact cities were eligible and competed for the RFP funds. Over the next few years, each of the seven winning cities will receive grants totaling the following:
New Orleans: $2,968,172
Spring Branch: $2,192,636
New York City: $3,699,999
The foundation is likely to make another round of compact-related funding announcements in the second quarter of 2013. This will include a small number of Program Related Investments (PRIs) to support mutually beneficial financing and facility use proposals to increase the number of high performing seats for students. These PRIs may be in the form of low-cost loans, credit enhancements or risk sharing structures that leverage external funding and can serve as proof points towards the ultimate goal of open facility access to high performing schools regardless or governance.
To learn more about the District-Charter Collaboration Compacts and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s education strategy, please visit www.gatesfoundation.org/education.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.