The Denver Public Schools Foundation has announced a five-year, $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of efforts to address persistent challenges faced by the most vulnerable students.
Awarded through the foundation's Networks for School Improvement (NSI) initiative, the grant will support teacher-led instructional improvements designed to enhance support for African-American, Latinx, and low-income students. With the goal of ensuring that students achieve grade-level competency in math and literacy in grades nine through eleven, Denver Public Schools' College Ready On Track Network for School Improvement program will encourage students to push beyond passing grades and course credit to demonstrate what they know and can do. To that end, participating schools will develop, test, and refine new approaches to strengthening instruction and personalized student supports.
According to the DPS Foundation, college-enrollment rates for African-American and Latinx students in the Class of 2018 were 15 percentage points and 21 percentage points lower than those for their white classmates.
Launched in 2018, the NSI initiative is aimed at helping middle schools and high schools identify and solve common problems and refine best practices which ensure that students are on track to graduate on time. Denver Public Schools is one of four new grantees added to the program this fall, along with the American Institutes for Research (Central Florida), Commit Partnership (Dallas County, Texas), and the New Tech Network (El Paso County, Comal County, and Ector County, Texas).
"Our school leaders and teachers are always working on new ways to help their students be more successful," said DPS superintendent Susana Cordova. "Through the Networks for School Improvement initiative, our educators will work as part of a cohort focused on shared goals, developing, testing, and refining new ideas for improving how we support and instruct our students so that they stay on-track to college and career success."