The Boston-based Barr Foundation has announced grants totaling $4.5 million to education organizations across New England working to build innovative school models for high school students who are off track to graduate.
Through the foundation's five-year, $30 million Engage New England: Doing High School Differently initiative, five organizations in the region — the second of three grantee cohorts under the initiative — will each receive $150,000 to support their planning for new, expanded, or improved schools. The recipients include the Center for Collaborative Education Metro Boston, which will use its grant to redesign the school model for Next Wave/Full Circle, a school in the Somerville (MA) Public School district; Fall River Public Schools (MA), which will redesign the school model for Resiliency Preparatory Academy; Hartford Public Schools (CT), which will design a new program model for its schools; the Phoenix Charter Academy Foundation (MA), which will redesign the school model for Phoenix Charter Academy in Lawrence; and Providence-based Roger Williams University (RI), which will design a new school model called University High School targeting students from the region.
In addition to the funding, each organization will receive technical assistance and collective learning opportunities facilitated by Springpoint, Barr's partner in the initiative. Depending on the quality of the plans they develop, participants in the initiative may be invited to apply for implementation grants of up to $750,000 over two years.
The foundation also announced implementation grants totaling more than $3.75 million to five organizations that received planning support through the initiative last year. Recipients include the Capital Region Education Council (CT) for the launch of Impact Academy; Chelsea Public Schools (MA) for the launch of Chelsea Opportunity Academy; Maine School Administrative District #60 in North Berwick (ME) for the launch of a redesigned and expanded Multiple Pathways Program at Noble High School; Map Education, Inc. in Plymouth (MA) for the launch of Map Academy; and the Phoenix Charter Academy Foundation, Inc. (MA) for the launch of a redesigned Phoenix Charter Academy Chelsea.
"New England has done a good job for many students. Yet, we believe we can do a great job for all by intentionally designing schools that align with the evidence of what works for all students: learning that places students at the center; is connected to higher education, employment, and civic life; and builds on students' unique strengths and those of their communities," said Barr Foundation director of education Leah Hamilton. "Engage New England: Doing High School Differently invites partners to rethink high school education, aligning it with positive youth development theory and creating a variety of whole school models that are as rigorous as they are flexible in developing content knowledge, successful habits, creative know-how, and navigation abilities — the integrated knowledge and skills that students need to access their full potential, and to be successful in our rapidly changing world."