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NEW YORK -- Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc. (TMSF) today announced that it is the recipient of a $4.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will be used to develop and implement a unique, five-year program to redesign five low-performing high schools and to create three new high schools in economically distressed communities.
Each of the eight high schools will have a rigorous academic program, strong relationships between schools, parents and the community and outcomes that are consistent with strategic academic goals. The new and transformed schools will be small, with a population of no more than 600 students.
The program aims to strengthen the role of public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in national education reform efforts and to notably improve the academic achievements and graduation rates of students attending low-performing schools. The high schools, which will voluntarily participate in the program, will all be in the Southern region, where low-performing schools are disproportionately located.
The program will be a partnership among the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, TMSF, the high schools, eight of TMSF's 45 member public HBCUs serving as partners to the high schools, the TMSF Redesign Team, and local communities.
"This effort is a natural extension of TMSF's mission and vision of preparing a new generation of leaders and is aligned with the No Child Left Behind legislation," said Dwayne Ashley, president of Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc. "We anticipate that the program will measurably transform academic standards and significantly improve the educational and long-term career prospects for thousands of students."
The TMSF partner universities will be selected through a request for proposals process from those universities interested in being considered as partners in the program. Those selected will provide the participating schools with guidance, resources and access to the universities' faculty and their educational expertise, while creating partnerships with their respective community's private sector.
"Close to one half of all African American students don't graduate from high school," said Tom Vander Ark, executive director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "These new schools will provide the kind of rich, rigorous and relevant learning environments where kids can thrive and envision a future." Research shows that students in smaller schools, particularly low-income students, have higher test scores and higher graduation rates.
"We expect this program to serve as a model for college-guided transformation of secondary education," said N. Joyce Payne, Ph.D., founder of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc. and Director, Minority and Human Resources Programs, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges in cooperation with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. "We also anticipate that it will significantly increase the number of academically competitive African-American students in institutions of higher education and particularly public HBCUs."
Eve Hall, TMSF vice president, Midwest Region, has been appointed Interim Director of the TMSF Redesign Team for the project. Hall has extensive experience in the public and nonprofit sectors and has a strong background in education reform and public policy. Hall is also a graduate of Florida A & M University, a TMSF member school.
The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, is the only national organization of its type that provides merit-based scholarships and programmatic support to students attending the nation's public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It also provides capacity building support to its 45 member schools, which educate 215,000 students annually. Since its inception in 1987, the Fund has awarded more than $20 million in scholarships and programmatic support to more than 4,400 students, enabling them to attend public historically and traditionally black colleges and universities. The nonprofit organization also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools.