Gates Foundation Awards $25 Million to Boost District-Charter School Collaboration

Gates Foundation Awards $25 Million to Boost District-Charter School Collaboration

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced grants totaling nearly $25 million to seven cities working to foster greater collaboration between public charter and traditional district schools.

Boston, Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and Spring Branch (Texas) were awarded grants ranging from $2.1 million to $4.9 million to continue scaling and working on initiatives that advance college readiness for students in all types of public schools. The initiatives include joint professional development for teachers in charter and district schools, implementation of the Common Core State Standards and aligned instructional tools, the creation of personalized learning experiences for students, a universal public school enrollment system, and development of a set of common metrics to help families evaluate charter and district schools based on consistent criteria.

The grant recipients were selected from a pool of sixteen cities that have signed a District-Charter Collaboration Compact — an agreement to address issues, including access to equitable funding and facilities and whether charter schools are open to all students, that in the past have created tensions between charter and traditional district schools. The funding is in addition to a $100,000 grant each city received after its compact was signed.

The foundation plans to announce additional compact-related grants in 2013, including some program-related investments to support mutually beneficial financing and facility-use proposals to increase the capacity of high-performing schools.

"The goal is to support these communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high-performing schools," said Vicki Phillips, director of the foundation's College-Ready Education program. "These cities understand that opening the lines of communication and sharing best practices across schools are an effective way to do that. They have moved beyond the question of whether charters or district schools are better and are working together to benefit all students in these communities. These cities serve as models for what collaboration can do, and we applaud these local leaders for their commitment to advancing college readiness."