Boston schools win Gates Foundation grant
$3m award aims to foster more collaboration
Boston will receive a $3.25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to foster collaboration among the city's school system, charter schools, and parochial schools, the foundation plans to announce Wednesday.
Boston will be one of just seven US cities to receive a grant. The money will allow Boston to build upon a historic partnership launched last year to bolster the quality of education for all the city's students, regardless of what kind of school they attend.
"This grant will help deepen a relationship that is going to help all our city's children," Carol R. Johnson, superintendent of the Boston public schools, said in a statement.
The grant will pay to train teachers and administrators on instructional techniques for students who are not fluent in English. It also will be used to identify and expand efforts to accelerate the performance of black and Latino boys and to simplify the process for parents to enroll their children in school.
Boston's 128 city-run schools and 16 charter school operators entered into a compact last year, part of a campaign by the Gates Foundation, to work on a number of issues together. The city's 22 Catholic schools subsequently signed on to the agreement in the spring.
Together, those institutions educate about 88 percent of school-age children in Boston.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for charter schools and [the Boston public schools] and now parochial schools," said Kevin Andrews, chairman of the Boston Charter School Alliance and headmaster of Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester.
"I'm excited in a very positive way that we are helping to make change in the city of Boston."
The compact has already led to some unique collaborations over the past year.
For instance, teachers and administrators from Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Boston Collegiate Charter School, and Cristo Rey High School have been working together to align their courses with a new set of national academic standards for the teaching of English and math.
Boston will see more of these kinds of partnerships in coming years, under the Gates grant. Three schools in Brighton — Conservatory Lab Charter School, Edison K-8, and St. Columbkille Catholic School — plan to share in professional development, techniques of analyzing student data, and other initiatives.
"Catholic schools joined this compact to share our best practices and learn from our public and charter school peers," said Mary Grassa O'Neill, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Boston.
"We believe it is essential for all students in the city of Boston to receive a rigorous education, and collaboration among schools is crucial in this endeavor," she said. "This partnership helps to ensure a bright future."