Building innovative school models for students who are currently off track to graduate.

New England’s schools have done a good job for many students. “Engage New England: Doing high school differently” is one of Barr Foundation’s many efforts to make sure we do a great job for all.

Engage New England: Doing high school differently is a $30-million investment over five years to help New England innovators develop a diverse array of high school models that champion success for all students. Participants receive robust technical assistance from design and planning through implementation. They are also partners in a learning collaborative, sharing lessons with each other and like-minded innovators across the nation.

Each school will take its own form. Yet, all will be as rigorous as they are flexible in developing content knowledge, successful habits, creative know-how, and navigation abilities—the integrated knowledge and skills all young people need to succeed in learning, work, and life.

Our Partners

Through this initiative, Barr is investing in three cohorts of grantees to go through planning and, potentially, implementation of new school models that connect all students to success.


Continued Planning and Piloting


Technical Assistance

Barr has partnered with Springpoint to support grantees, both in the planning year and during the implementation phase. Springpoint is a national organization that supports innovative school model design and implementation. Grantees receive a combination of customized supports and network-wide learning experiences. Individual coaching focuses on capacity building, design process guidance, and design artifact review. Springpoint also facilitates a learning community for grantees, allowing them to share questions, work products, and emerging learnings. Grantees also have the opportunities to attend learning tours to schools in order to observe and learn from innovative practices and participate in network convenings.

Engage New England Partners

Putting Students at the Center of School Design

We know that students should be at the center of school design. And students are at the center of this initiative. We produced the short video below to ground and inspire those engaged in this work with real life experience of students who are now connecting to success.


Please note the following timeline for the initiative:

  • Cohort 1 RFP: November, 2016
  • Cohort 1 planning grants: June, 2017 (duration: 1 year)
  • Initiative evaluation (phase I): September, 2017 (duration: 3 years)
  • Cohort 2 RFP: October, 2017
  • Cohort 1 implementation grants: June, 2018 (duration: up to 3 years)
  • Cohort 2 planning grants: June, 2018 (duration: 1 year with option for extended time if needed)
  • Cohort 1 new and redesigned schools open: September, 2018
  • Cohort 3 RFP: November, 2018
  • Cohort 2 implementation grants: June, 2019 (duration: up to 3 years)
  • Cohort 3 planning grants: June, 2019 (duration: 1 year with option for extended time if needed)
  • Cohort 2 new and redesigned schools open: September, 2019
  • Cohort 3 implementation grants: June, 2020 (duration: up to 3 years)
  • Cohort 3 new and redesigned schools open: September, 2020

Digital Resources

Email Sign-Up

Sign up for email notifications about this initiative, including announcements about future funding opportunities.

Blog Posts About The Initiative