The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments has announced grants totaling $10.2 million to organizations working to improve schools and help bridge the achievement gap in the Pittsburgh public school district.
Awarded through Pathways to the Promise, the foundation's collaboration with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the funding will be used to improve classroom instruction; enhance afterschool programs, early education, and parent engagement; and bridge the long-standing achievement gap in a school district with a large African-American population. Since 2006, the foundation has awarded $20 million for education reform in the district.
Grants include $6 million to the Pittsburgh Promise initiative to help students and families plan, prepare, and pay for education beyond high school; $2 million to the Fund for Excellence to develop new curricula and classroom coaching; and $500,000 to Pittsburgh Public Schools for the next phase of the Culturally Responsive Arts Education program, which provides residencies for specially trained artists.
The foundation will also support neighborhood-based strategies connected to specific district schools, including a demonstration project for digital village computing in the University Prep High School; afterschool program expansion involving organizations such as Hill House Association; a partnership with Beginning with Books to support neighborhood programs that engage parents in reading to their children; and a grant to the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Child Development to bring a highly successful school-readiness program to the Hill District.
"Our strategies in funding education reform in the district are directed to achieving the ultimate goal, which is to create an educational system that allows all students to reach their full potential — to graduate with an education that prepares them well for the next level of education or the world of work," said Heinz Endowments chair Teresa Heinz. "To the extent that innovative, community-led strategies such as the Promise also move us toward that goal, we are a strong supporter."