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Three Leading Nonprofits Seek to Boost Achievement in New Orleans Public Schools

More than $17.5 million from three national foundations will help support greater opportunities for all students

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NEW ORLEANS -- New Schools for New Orleans, Teach For America, and New Leaders for New Schools today announced major new investments that will help them improve public education in New Orleans through the recruitment and training of more highly qualified teachers and school leaders and the creation of new, innovative public charter schools. The grants, totaling $17.5 million from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, come at time when many officials and organizations are collaborating to improve the quality of New Orleans public schools.

The nonprofit recipients seek to use the new funding to boost work already underway in the city:

  • New Schools for New Orleans will use $10 million to continue its support of public school reform in New Orleans by attracting exemplary educators through the teachNOLA program, incubating new schools, and advocating for greater school quality and accountability;

  • Teach For America, receiving $6.5 million, plans to recruit and train new teachers for New Orleans schools from a nationwide corps of recent college graduates and young professionals;

  • New Leaders for New Schools plans to use its $1 million to recruit and train educators to become effective principals in New Orleans public schools and to provide them with professional support. Today's investment comes on top of previously announced grants of over $3 million to New Leaders for New Schools from the Gates Foundation and the Fisher Fund for the work in New Orleans.

"High performing schools are rooted in strong leaders, committed teachers, and a belief that every student can succeed," said Sarah Usdin, founder of New Schools for New Orleans. "Only through joining forces can we ensure that every student in New Orleans—regardless of where they live—will have the opportunity to graduate ready for college, career, and life."

Before Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, public schools in Orleans Parish, which includes New Orleans, served approximately 66,000 students, and the district was among the lowest performing in the nation. Today, students are being served by a radically different school system. District enrollment is over half of what it was in 2005 and over 40 percent of New Orleans’ 80 post-Katrina public schools are open-enrollment charter schools—the highest percentage in any U.S. city. These schools, held to rigorous performance standards, are seeking to reverse the poor test scores and high dropout rates that have long plagued the district.

New Orleans schools already have benefited from an influx of new teachers and school leaders. Through a partnership between New Schools for New Orleans and teachNOLA, more than 200 new teachers have been trained and placed in both traditional and public charter schools city-wide. Teach For America has seen a record number of teacher applications for New Orleans schools, and New Leaders for New Schools has received nearly 200 applications for its first seven principals-in-training positions this spring. The organization plans to recruit a total of 40 principals within the next three years—enough to lead nearly half of New Orleans public schools.

"These announcements provide a huge boost for the children of New Orleans and reflect a growing, long-term national commitment to education in this city," said Jon Schnur, founder of New Leaders for New Schools. "New Orleans schools are open for business and ready for outstanding teachers and leaders to join forces to ensure that quality schools are the leading edge of revitalization of the city and region."

New Leaders for New Schools will also receive $1 million from the State of Louisiana that was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state legislature based on a proposal from Governor Kathleen Blanco.

All three organizations receiving the new funds have a deep understanding of the unique challenges within the city's public school system. They see this opportunity as a community-based effort to improve schools and are seeking to strengthen local partnerships with the Recovery School District, the Urban League, the Scott Cowen Institute, and the individual schools themselves.

"Meaningful and lasting change in our schools won't happen overnight," said Kira Orange Jones, executive director of Teach For America – Greater New Orleans. "It will take a sustained effort from everyone—the government, private organizations, and individuals across the city—to believe in the promise of excellent public schools for New Orleans and to join in the solution."

Investment summary

  • The Fisher Fund's grants include $2.5 million for Teach For America and $2.5 million for New Schools for New Orleans

  • The Gates Foundation is investing $5.5 million in New Schools for New Orleans and $1 million in Teach For America

  • The Broad Foundation is providing $3 million to Teach For America; $2 million to New Schools for New Orleans, and $1 million to New Leaders for New Schools

New Schools for New Orleans is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving excellent public schools for every New Orleans child. To facilitate change and work towards our vision, NSNO concentrates its work in four key areas: 1) recruiting and placing teachers and principals through partnerships with teachNOLA and New Leaders for New Schools; 2) opening and supporting new open-enrollment charter schools; 3) providing grants to promote school quality; and, 4) informing and collaborating with the community to achieve high-quality, accountable schools.

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. This year, more than 5,000 corps members are teaching in over 1,000 schools in 26 regions across the country, and more than 12,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity.

New Leaders for New Schools is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the transformation of urban education. The organization recruits and trains outstanding principals in order to boost academic achievement in urban public schools and provides support to enable the schools to succeed. Since its founding in 2000, New Leaders has trained more than 330 principals who are working to improve academic achievement for 200,000 students in regions around the country, including New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Oakland.

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