New Funding Opportunity to Transform the High School Experience

Request for Proposals

Are you ready to meet the moment for your students?

We are no longer accepting applications for this RFP.

Now is the time to challenge the status quo and move towards a vision of educational excellence that our students deserve. Many pandemic restrictions have been lifted and it is tempting to return to the way things were. Yet, the way things were was not working for many students. Too often, school and system structures, policies, practices, and belief systems limit access to opportunity and contribute to inequitable outcomes for students of color, low-income students, students learning English, and students with special needs.    

Barr seeks to partner with high schools and systems that are ready to embrace a pivotal opportunity to pause, understand the context and student need more deeply, challenge assumptions about how things need to be, and move toward a vision of excellence that our students deserve.

This is a unique opportunity for high school and system leaders to come together and have the necessary deep conversations and rigorous planning that this moment demands.


This opportunity may be for you if:

  • You are ready to engage in a new strategy, visioning, and/or planning process, or
  • You are looking for a complementary set of supports for a strategy, visioning, and/or planning process that is already underway, or
  • You have a current strategy, vision, or plan that needs to be reimagined to be more about transformative, equity-driven change.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be open to considering new possibilities for fundamental change at both the high school and school system levels (i.e., bring a learner’s mindset rather than a predetermined set of solutions).
  • Public Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including districts and charter organizations, are eligible to apply. A group or regional consortium/collaborative of LEAs or schools organized around common goals or interests may also apply.
  • This opportunity is open to LEAs serving students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont. Each LEA must include students in at least one high school grade and serve a minimum of 100 high school students.
  • Current Catalyze New Models and Invest in Educators grantees with high schools that are not yet active in Barr-supported transformation efforts are eligible to apply. Please connect with your current Program Officer if you have questions regarding eligibility.
  • The Barr Education Program’s strategy focuses on high school options that provide equitable access for all students; high schools with selective/screened admissions are ineligible to apply.
  • Single-school LEAs (e.g., a single site charter school) are ineligible to apply for this particular opportunity due to the dual school-level and system-level focus.
  • Successful applicants must have a student need that warrants a substantial level of investment to transform for equity. Eligibility for this opportunity can be met through at least one of the following options:
    • LEAs with a high school population that is at least 50% high needs students (composite rate of at least 50% across all high schools included). (Note: Using the MA DESE definition of high needs: “A student is high needs if he or she is designated as either low income (prior to 2015, and from 2022 to present), economically disadvantaged (from 2015 to 2021), El/former El, or a student with disabilities. A former El student is a student not currently an El, but had been at some point in the four previous academic years.”)
    • LEAs who have experienced significant recent growth in their high needs high school student population.
    • LEAs with a population of high school students who are not being served well by the current model of school and whose unique experiences, strengths, and needs must be centered as part of an overall plan to reimagine high school.

Community of Practice Scope and Sequence

A year-long opportunity to learn, dream, and plan as part of a community of practice

We have learned that deep commitment at both the high school and system levels is required in order to set a shared, meaningful vision for long-term change. Both school and system leadership must have a deep understanding of the long-term vision and an active role in creating the conditions needed to move forward. To this end, the community of practice is intended for joint participation of high school building leaders (e.g. Principal, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, etc.) in partnership with system-level leaders (e.g. Superintendent, Principal Supervisor, etc.) as an opportunity for alignment and coherence across the school and system levels.

Learn, Dream, and Plan

Three phases of participation over the course of a year

2 0 2 3

  • Students talk on a panel.

    LEARN: Summer-Fall 2023

    Deepen collective capacity to understand and respond to the students served; utilize and enhance leadership experiences; and identify how policies, practices, and organizational systems contribute to or prevent students from thriving in schools.

2 0 2 4

  • Students graduation

    Dream: Winter 2024

    See what’s possible through interactions with and potential visits to bright spot schools/districts.

  • An instructor teaching students an experimentation with test tubes

    PLAN: Spring 2024

    Develop a plan for a transformed high school experience and system customized to the local context.


All questions related to the RFP should be submitted via email to

Application Timeline

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

  1. Office hours (optional): Week of February 13 and week of March 6

    Applicants are encouraged to sign up for office hours if you would like to discuss your questions or proposal with a member of the Barr Foundation team. Please email to sign up for office hours.

  2. Informational webinar: Wednesday, March 1st 3-4 p.m.

    View the webinar recording here and the webinar slides here.

  3. Proposals due: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by 5 p.m.

    Email all application materials, including a budget and narrative, to by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Materials should be in pdf or Word document format. Please embed any links within the pdf or Word document.

  4. Awards announced: Early July

    Barr will select up to 10 teams of high school and system leaders from across New England. Grantees will receive up to $100,000 in addition to technical assistance and other supports beyond the grant.

  5. Grant period: July 2023–July 2024

    Participants will engage in three phases of work over the course of a year.

Application Resources