We believe that all young people can succeed in learning, work, and life.

The Barr Foundation seeks to open doors to rigorous, personalized education so that more young people have real opportunities to thrive. Our Education portfolio spans New England, with emphasis on secondary education.

We focus on the high school years.

Secondary education plays a vital role in youth development. With high quality learning, students can enter college and attain a degree without remediation, or connect to a certificate program and find a good job. They grow their awareness and abilities to be part of vibrant communities.

But too many New England students leave high school early—or graduate without being prepared for what’s next. They often struggle as adults to participate fully in the economy and community where they live.

Schools must change because young people learn in different ways. Insights into human development show that new approaches to instruction are essential to make high school relevant for all students.

Schools must change because the world students live in has changed. Technology and globalization create demands for new skills, knowledge, and mindsets in the workforce.

We embrace three principles that benefit all youth.

Our Education program investments encourage new learning models that respond to the needs of young people today. We infuse three principles into our work, placing:

Graphic of circles showing students at the center of schools and communities.
  • Students at the center of education. We support learning that engages and empowers young people through their individual interests. We believe that rigorous academics can be delivered in accessible ways, helping students grow the content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and habits that set them up for success.

  • Schools in relationship to all learning. We work with institutions and educators who create schools that contribute to a young person’s total developmental experience. We believe that learning happens both inside the classroom and beyond school walls—and must be connected to higher education, employment, and civic life.

  • Community as the context for achievement. We recognize that no single educational method can work in every circumstance. We believe that the most enduring, authentic solutions build on the strengths of the students and school communities being served.

Our Program Strategies

Advancing Greater Success For All Students

These strategies aim to nurture the development and expansion of new secondary school models in New England.

Learn more about Our Program Strategies


Learn about current initiatives for Barr's Education program below. To see all recent Education grantmaking activity, visit our grants database.

Engage New England: Doing High School Differently Initiative

A $30-million, five-year investment to build innovative school models for students who are currently off track to graduate.

Learn more about Engage New England: Doing High School Differently Initiative

Education Program Grantmaking Process and Inquiries

Grants awarded by the Barr Foundation originate in different ways. The majority are initiated by our staff or through a request for proposals (RFP) process.

We welcome inquiries from those who feel their work may align with Barr’s Education strategies and who wish to introduce themselves to us. The best approach is to email Cindy Lung, Education program associate, with a brief description (we suggest 300–400 words) of your organization and the funding opportunity you would like us to consider. Given the high volume of inquiries we receive and a relatively small staff, it may take a few weeks to hear back from our Education team.

Read more about our grantmaking process

Recent Education Posts