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Gates Foundation Announces Additional District Charter Compacts

$500,000 in Competitive Grants Awarded to Five New Cities for Supporting Collaboration and Student Success

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

HOUSTON (January 29, 2014) — To support its goal of providing every student with a high-quality public education that prepares them for success in college and career, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announces grants totaling $500,000 to five cities where public charter and district schools are committed to working together to support student success: Aldine (TX), Lawrence (MA), San Jose (CA), Spokane (WA) and Tulsa (OK). These communities join a group of 16 other cities across the U.S. that have also signed District-Charter Collaboration Compacts – plans for bold collaboration between public charter and district public schools.

The foundation’s investment of $100,000 each enables these communities to continue scaling and working on initiatives that support the strategic focus of improving educational outcomes for all students, including:

  • Joint professional development for teachers in public 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.

“These cities and their leaders understand the importance of collaboration and the benefits of sharing best practices to support student success,” said Don Shalvey, Deputy Director of US Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They have taken the initiative to go beyond the traditional comparison of charters vs. district schools and are working together to benefit all students in their communities. We commend these cities and their local leaders for their commitment to providing a quality education for every student and expanded public school options in the spirit of collaboration.”

Highlights of the new compacts include:

  • The Aldine (Texas) compact brings together two Broad Prize winners –
    Aldine Independent School District (Broad Prize for Urban Educators) and YES Prep (Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools). The two organizations will work together to increase college readiness and graduation rates through sharing information, best practices and educator supports to develop leadership skills.
  • After being identified as the lowest-performing district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in November 2011, Lawrence Public Schools has shown tremendous growth, in part due to new partnerships with charter schools and third-party school operators. This compact aims to build on these gains by narrowing the district’s achievement gap in graduation rates and English language arts and math proficiency.
  • The third Compact city in California, the Franklin-McKinley School District (San Jose, CA) compact focuses on deepening collaboration on equity and student preparedness. The compact focuses primarily on Common Core implementation, practices for identifying, retaining and supporting effective teachers, and learning models that meet the needs of individual students.
  • As the first district approved to authorize charter schools in Washington state, Spokane Public Schools will work collaboratively with public charter schools to improve outcomes for all students through a clear framework to measure the performance of schools and Common Core implementation, as well as sharing professional development opportunities for charter and district staff.
  • Public charter schools and district schools in Tulsa Public Schools are committing to work together to share lessons learned about measuring and improving effective teaching and student performance and continuing to improve support to teachers. In addition, Tulsa Public Schools was one of the foundation’s Accelerator Partnership Sites from 2009-2013, working to improve the effectiveness of teaching across the school system.

The District-Charter Collaboration Compacts are designed to address issues that have often led to tensions between public charter and district schools. These include access to equitable funding and facilities, as well as whether charter schools are open to all students, including English language learners and those with special needs. Through a mix of accountability, collaboration and pledging to share resources and best practices, Compact cities are working through many of these issues.

“We are excited about formalizing our collaboration with YES Prep,” said Wanda Bamberg, superintendent of Aldine Independent School District. “I firmly believe that working together, we will collectively have a better chance of improving the educational opportunities and outcomes for all children.”

In addition to the five District-Charter Collaboration Compacts announced today, since 2010 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in similar 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. To date, the foundation has invested more than $25 million in Compact cities.

To learn more about the District-Charter Collaboration Compacts and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s education strategy, please visit

About the 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 Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.


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