Year Up

Learning Beyond the Walls of Traditional High Schools

Barr issues RFP for planning and design of schools situated within a wider learning ecosystem to promote college and career readiness.

As part of the Barr Education Program’s vision for secondary education, we are committed to investing in innovative high school models that prepare all students for post-secondary success. To cultivate the competencies required for successful post-secondary transitions in today’s global economy and society, students need authentic learning opportunities that expose them to and immerse them in college, careers, and their communities. Schools that systematically engage with a wider learning ecosystem comprising the educational, business, and non-profit organizations within the surrounding communities can provide just such learning opportunities, yet must be designed fundamentally differently than their traditional counterparts.

We believe that all students are capable of achieving post-secondary success, and that in order to do so, they must have access to the types of learning opportunities and experiences that help to build the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for successful transitions to college and career. Rather than being insular, high schools need to connect with and capitalize on the assets within their surrounding communities in order to provide students with a comprehensive program of study that addresses the many facets of college and career readiness.

High schools need to connect with and capitalize on the assets within their surrounding communities.

Today, we are excited to release a request for proposals (RFP) for the design of innovative models that blend the lines between school, college, career, and the community. This funding opportunity focuses on improving college and career readiness and post-secondary outcomes for New England youth by supporting the development of promising public high school models that provide learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom to all students as an integral component of the schools’ mission, design, and program of study.

The Barr Foundation seeks proposals focused on existing public high schools across New England that are interested in a planning and design phase to leverage the wider learning ecosystem to offer one or more of the following:

  • Anytime-anywhere learning opportunities that enable students to participate in experiential learning and build social capital in the community; and augment the school’s capacity to provide comprehensive, holistic programs of study.

  • Career development experiences that promote students’ awareness of their interests and options, and deepen student engagement in school through connecting the relevance of their coursework to their future plans.

  • Early college experiences that expose students to the environment of post-secondary education and enable students to earn college credits while completing the requirements for their high school diploma.

Our goal is to spur innovation across the region toward the planning and implementation of public, whole-school educational models that transcend the school walls in order to help all students develop the competencies required for a 21st-century definition of student success. We recognize that to do this, schools must form strong, strategic partnerships with external organizations and institutions that will share the responsibility for providing students with a set of rich, robust, and diverse learning experiences.

We invite eligible applicants to prepare a proposal for a grant of up to $300,000 for a planning and design phase lasting up to two years. Applicants may submit a proposal focused on one or more existing high schools in New England. We expect to fund up to 10 grantees. Barr will accept proposals until June 14, 2017.

At the conclusion of the planning and design phase, grant recipients will have developed feasible, actionable designs for their whole-school models. Based on the quality of the design, planning grant recipients may be invited to apply for an implementation grant.

We know that there are many innovative practices and approaches throughout New England currently underway, and we are excited to support the development and expansion of learning opportunities that enable all students to engage with the wider learning ecosystem.

Learn more about the RFP process and timeline

Watch the webinar recording below to learn more about this opportunity

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Leah Hamilton

Former Director of Education