What will our students know and be able to do by graduation?

Overview of the Opportunity

A new RFP invites applications for New England communities to develop a collective vision of their graduates, a first step for designing schools with students at the center.

The Barr Foundation seeks to select up to 20 communities across New England to receive funding and technical assistance to build locally-driven portraits of their high school graduates. A portrait of a graduate articulates the community’s collective vision of what all high school students will know and be able to do. In order for all students to reach their potential, high schools must be intentionally designed to hold students to high expectations. Through the development and use of a portrait of a graduate, high schools can embrace a robust definition of student success that ensures that students are fully equipped with core academic knowledge and skills, as well as a range of other competencies that we all need to be successful in college, career, and community.

Over a 12-month period from January – December 2020, grantees will facilitate a local working team to lead the planning and research effort, deeply engage a range of stakeholders, participate in a cohort learning community, work with national experts, and visit at least one national example to inform and inspire their vision development. Applicants are invited to submit proposals for $50,000 to $250,000, depending on the number and size of schools and organizations collaborating in the portrait development process.

Download the RFP

Learn more about this new funding opportunity and the development of a portrait of a graduate.

Download the RFP


Please note the following timeline for the RFP:

  • June 25, 2019: RFP released
  • July 16, 2019: Webinar for prospective applicants. Recording and slides provided below.
  • July-August, 2019: Optional office hours via conference call. Sign up here.
  • August 30, 2019: Proposals due
  • December 5, 2019: Awards announced
  • January-December 2020: Grant period

Who We're Looking For

Applicants may be approaching this work from a variety of starting places. Some applicants may be in the early stages of thinking about “doing high school differently,” as a portrait of a graduate is an important anchor in any high school design effort in order to ground and bring coherence to model development. Other applicants may have already started some high school design work, but have not yet fully developed a robust vision to drive all aspects of their design. Some applicants may have an existing portrait of a graduate (or similar vision) in place, but recognize that stakeholders were not fully engaged in the portrait development.

Examples of questions your community might be grappling with include:

  • How do we garner buy-in from community stakeholders?
  • How do we more systemically tackle achievement gaps between student groups?
  • How do we make learning more relevant and engaging for our students?
  • How do we ensure students are fully prepared for college, career, and the community?
  • How do all of our existing programs and resources fit together?


The community must:

  • Work with at least one high school (any public governance structure);
  • Include a minimum of 100 high school students (total across participating high schools);
  • Include a high school population that is at least 50% high needs students (composite rate of at least 50% across all high schools included); and
  • Serve students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont.

The Lead Applicant must:

  • Be either an LEA or a 510(c)(3) based in the community; and
  • Be one of the Core Facilitators on the Working Team (see RFP for more details on this).

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for $50,000 to $250,000. The proposed budget is at the discretion of the applicant (within this range) and should be based on the number and size of schools and organizations collaborating in the portrait development process.

Subscribe for Updates

Sign up for Barr's Education mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest announcements and opportunities for partnership.