A Vision for New England Schools and Programs for Students Off Track to Graduate

Across the United States, approximately 2.6 million young people ages 16–24 are off track to graduate from high school.

The overarching goal of Barr’s Education program is to increase the number of youth who connect to secondary and post-secondary success. In this, we are committed to addressing the needs of all students.

Accordingly, one of our first endeavors under our Education strategies is a multi-year initiative to improve secondary outcomes for New England youth who are off track to graduate. We aim to support both existing and new models across the region that can serve as inspirational exemplars for the design and implementation of responsive, flexible, and student-centered schools, intentionally designed to support the needs of young people who are so often left behind by traditional schools. The success of these schools will provide critical insights into how best to meet the varied needs of all students, lessons that we believe will be applicable across the entire landscape of high school programming.

We know that students should be at the center of school design. And students are at the center of this initiative. As we embarked on this new work, we produced the short video below to ground us, and to inspire with the real life experience of students who are now connecting to success.

Request for Proposals

Planning and Design of Schools and Programs for Students who are Off Track to Graduate in New England

We are seeking proposals for innovative public high schools and programs across New England that are designed to support students who are off track to graduate.

In this first cycle, we anticipate supporting a cohort of up to eight grantees from across New England, who seek to seed or grow pioneering whole-school models that can effectively boost graduation rates and college readiness for students who have not found the support they need through traditional education models.

Download the RFP


Barr invites applications from entities interested in:

  • Opening new schools or programs*
  • Improvements to existing schools or programs
  • Growing schools or programs

Successful applicants will be focused on a school or program that: leads to a high school diploma, is an option of choice for the participating students, and intentionally serves high school students off track to graduate.

*For the purposes of this RFP, in addition to “schools,” we use the term “programs” to refer to entities that may be situated within a district but function like a school in all aspects—i.e., they offer students integrated, full-time academic and social supports in holistic, integrated learning environments that are tailored specifically to address students’ comprehensive needs toward achieving college and career success. Even if such entities are part of a larger system that designates them as a “program,” with a governance structure that is distinct from that of an individual school, we still encourage them to reply. Please note that this RFP is not intended to identify or fund standalone interventions or initiatives that target only a single or small group of issues or elements of student life (e.g., attendance, socio-emotional learning, tutoring), including those that take place within or in partnership with traditional high schools.


Please note the following estimated timeline for the RFP process and broader initiative:

  • November 14, 2016: RFP released
  • December 12, 2016: Virtual Information Session to introduce the initiative and RFP process
  • January 12, 2017: “Office hours” via conference call 9-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. EST
  • January 27, 2017: “Office hours” via conference call 9-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. EST
  • February 6, 2017: “Office hours” via conference call 9-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. EST
  • February 15, 2017: Planning phase proposals due.
  • July 2017: One-year planning phase awards announced
  • January 2018: Implementation award invitations released
  • July 2018: Two-year implementation awards announced
  • Fall 2018: Launch of new, expanded, or improved models

Info Session Recording

3 Minute Initiative Overview

Sign up for email notifications about this initiative, including opportunities for support during the proposal process.

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