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New Grants Support 11 Schools to Redesign Where Learning Happens

Connecting more students to success by blurring the lines between school, college, career, and community.

In order to prepare all students for post-secondary success, students must have access to learning opportunities that help to build the knowledge and skills necessary for successful transitions to college and career. To support high schools in their efforts to leverage the assets within their surrounding communities in order to provide students with a comprehensive program of study, the Education Program announced in March 2017 the “Preparing for Post-Secondary Success Through the Wider Learning Ecosystem” request for proposals (RFP). The goal of the RFP was to identify existing, public New England high schools that are committed to engaging in a deep planning and capacity building phase to redesign their school model to transcend the school walls and blend the lines between school, college, career, and the community in order to help all students develop the competencies required for a 21st-century definition of student success.

Today, it is our pleasure to announce the eight planning and design phase grantees, representing 11 high schools. All of the grantees are committed to redesigning their high school model to meet the identified needs of their students and communities. They also have a vision for a public high school model that utilizes evidence-based strategies and practices to provide students with credit-bearing learning opportunities in the wider learning ecosystem that includes the myriad educational, business, and non-profit organizations within the surrounding communities. Rather than peripheral programs, these learning experiences in the ecosystem will be central components of the schools’ programs of study.

All of the grantees are committed to redesigning their high school model to meet the identified needs of their students and communities.
Wider Learning Ecosystem RFP Recipients

Grants range in size from $225,000 to $860,000 for up to two years of planning and design work. The funds will be used to develop actionable implementation plans that transform existing public high schools into models that leverage the wider learning ecosystem to offer all students 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.

Rather than peripheral programs, these learning experiences in the ecosystem will be central components of the schools’ programs of study.

The eight grantees were selected from a total of 31 applicants that responded to the request for proposals, representing a variety of local education agencies and non-profit organizations. Based on the quality of the implementation plans, some grantees may be invited to submit a proposal for an implementation grant.

New England has done a good job for many students, but we believe we can do a great job for all. Innovative high school models that are responsive to students’ interests and needs, as well as the expectations of the world beyond the school walls, can help all students navigate a path to post-secondary success. These models can address readiness gaps and promote successful post-secondary transitions by utilizing an expanded definition of what it means to be college and career ready, and through a school design that offers a wide range of learning opportunities that align with that definition.

New England has done a good job for many students, but we believe we can do a great job for all. Tweet This

We are looking forward to supporting and learning alongside the high schools, as well as their technical assistance and community partners, over the next two years as they engage in robust, student-centered school design processes.

Pictured above: Students from Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex spent the summer learning with their teachers about sustainable food sources and growing their own food, while teaching middle school youth about healthy eating and the importance of urban community gardens.

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Jenny Curtin

Jenny Curtin

Senior Program Officer, Education