Nellie Mae Education Foundation Awards $16M to Continue Implementation of Student-Centered Learning

Monday, January 05, 2015

Nellie Mae Education Foundation Awards $16M to Continue Implementation of Student-Centered Learning
Five New England School Districts Continue to Receive Funds to Improve Education
QUINCY, Mass. – January 5, 2015 – The Nellie Mae Education Foundation announced today that it will further the implementation of its District Level Systems Change initiative by renewing grants to five New England school districts. All of the grantees are engaged in transforming their school systems to support and sustain student-centered environments. Pittsfield, NH and Portland, Maine are entering Phase II implementation of the District Level Systems Change Initiative. Hartford and Meriden, Conn., and Revere, Mass are entering Phase I.  Funding for the Burlington and Winooski school districts, which were a part of the original cohort of Building New Models for System Change, has been deferred by the Foundation until the spring 2015.
“The steps these districts have already taken in the early phases of these grants to reshape their systems to ensure an effective student-centered approach are truly impressive,” said Nicholas C. Donohue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “Student-centered learning prepares students to master both the academic knowledge and the critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills they need to thrive beyond high school. The Building New Models for Systems Change and New Approaches in Urban Districts grants are helping local districts and communities effectively prepare all learners for success in work and life.”
Each district has made significant progress towards implementing their long-term plans to support student-centered learning:
  • Hartford: After successfully making the transition to a portfolio-based school model, the Hartford Public Schools have created a strong foundation for implementing student-centered learning across the district. This grant will support their High School Centers of Innovation, which will serve as laboratories to cultivate innovation and collaboration and provide a vehicle for continuous improvements and to support and sustain student-centered learning. Additionally, the grant will support teacher and principal abilities to successfully implement student-centered learning and the development of a systems-level approach to ensure educational excellence and equity for every student.
  • Meriden: The Meriden Public Schools are poised to make a shift in the educational paradigm from traditional to transformational. This grant will support the district’s move towards anytime/anywhere learning, its implementation of competency-based and blended learning across the district and wide-scale personalized learning experiences. Additionally, it will support the district’s efforts to strengthen community and parental support for and understanding of student-centered learning.
  • Pittsfield: Pittsfield has already accomplished significant systems-level shifts towards student-centered learning, with personalized and proficiency-based learning taking place across the district, a community that is highly involved and bought-in, and students who have the majority vote on the school committee and representation on the school board. This grant ensures Pittsfield’s continued success by supporting efforts to map students’ post-secondary success, raise student achievement and develop 21st century skills.
  • Portland: With three unique high school models -- the Asia Society International Studies at Deering High School, Johns Hopkins Talent Development at Portland High School and Expeditionary Learning at Casco Bay High School -- Portland schools are well on their way to seeing broad, systemic change. This grant will help to support the district’s new proficiency-based graduation policy, a shift to restorative justice, the Racial Equity Network, a review of district and school leadership structures and implementing student-centered models across the district.
  • Revere: Recently named the best urban high school in the nation by the National Center for Urban School Transformation, Revere High School is looking to build on its tremendous success in raising achievement and with flipped and competency-based learning. This grant will also support the district’s goal that 100 percent of its high school students be college and career ready by 2025 by helping to build internal capacity for implementing student-centered learning, more community engagement and piloting new strategies in a measured way at specific schools.
About the Nellie Mae Education Foundation:
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels across New England—where learning is personalized; learning is competency-based; learning takes place anytime, anywhere; and students exert ownership over their own learning. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a four-part strategy that focuses on: building educator ownership, understanding and capacity; advancing quality and rigor of SCL practices; developing effective systems designs; and building public understanding and demand. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $180 million in grants. For more information about the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, visit