NMEF Awards $3.15 Million in Grants to Urban Districts

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Contact: Isabel Black
Solomon McCown
             (617) 933-5013

Nellie Mae Education Foundation Awards $3.15 Million in Grants
to Advance Student-Centered Learning in Seven Urban School Districts

Districts in Conn., Mass. and R.I. receive funding to better prepare students for post-secondary success

QUINCY, Mass.– April 3, 2013 – The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF), the largest charitable organization in New England focused exclusively on education, announced today that it is awarding more than $3 million in grants to seven urban school districts across New England. The grants initiative, New Approaches in Urban Districts (New Approaches), is designed to help low-income districts build capacity to enable more students to achieve at a higher level, and meet the Common Core State Standards through the implementation of systemic approaches to student-centered learning.
The seven school districts – Chelsea, Mass.; Hartford, Conn.; Manchester, Conn.; Meriden, Conn.; New Haven, Conn.; Providence, R.I. and Revere, Mass. – were selected from 22 applicants and already have demonstrated a commitment to pursue student-centered learning. Each will receive a 20-month grant of $450,000 to support systemic remodeling efforts that will better equip students with the critical thinking, problem solving and communications skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.
New Approaches was developed based on extensive research and consultations with superintendents of urban New England school districts and leading experts in urban education. Defined by NMEF, “student-centered learning” extends beyond the traditional school calendar and classroom walls, requiring students to take shared responsibility for learning in a variety of settings, including real-world situations and projects where teachers act as coach and guide. The grants will help districts grow and strengthen specific student-centered approaches like blended learning designs and performance-based assessment systems. This initiative also will support the formation of a cross-district learning network (CDL) that will provide opportunities to develop a culture of peer-supported learning.
“We are proud to work with these districts as they strive to shape the future of learning by implementing more personalized and tailored approaches,” said NMEF President and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue. “Our hope is that these grants will help these communities reshape educational opportunities to graduate a higher number of students prepared for 21st century success.”
“I am impressed to see The Nellie Mae Education Foundation make such a significant investment in enhancing the teaching, learning and leadership culture of these communities,” said Stanford Professor of Education and former education advisor to President Obama Linda Darling-Hammond. “By changing the way we asses student performance, to focus on authentic performance instead of time spent in a class, these districts can ensure that students have the skills they need to be college and career ready.”
“These grants are especially exciting because of their focus on promoting systemic change across school districts,” said Education Executive Director of Innosight Institute Michael B. Horn. “All too often we see ‘reform’ efforts focus on a single school or single group of teachers, but with collaboration and coordination across the district, we can foster a more supportive and engaged community and have a much greater impact.”
New Approaches is the third in a series of grants from NMEF that reflect its commitment to promoting student-centered learning throughout the region. In 2010, NMEF created the District Level Systems Change Initiative to invest in comprehensive and long-term district-level transformation efforts in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Then, in 2011, a second round of grants was awarded to build collaborative professional cultures to support student-centered approaches in New Haven, Norwalk, and Danbury, Conn.
About the Nellie Mae Education Foundation:
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest charitable 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. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a three-part strategy that focuses on: developing and enhancing models of practice; reshaping education policies; and increasing public understanding and demand for high quality educational experiences. The Foundation’s initiative areas are: District Level Systems Change; State Level Systems Change; Research and Development; and Public Understanding and Demand. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $154 million in grants. For more information, visit www.nmefoundation.org.