Friday, November 4, 2011

The NEA Foundation Awards $1M for Union-District Plans

Columbus, OH, Lee County, FL, Omaha, NE, and Springfield, MA

Washington, DC (Nov. 4, 2011) – The NEA Foundation today announced that it has awarded grants to partnerships of local education associations, school districts, and community leaders for five-year $1.25 million action plans to use progressive, union-led policy and practice to improve student achievement.  Union-district teams from Columbus, OH, Lee County, FL, Omaha, NE, and Springfield, MA, were selected from among more than 14,000 school districts nationwide to participate in the latest expansion of the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative.

Since 2004, the NEA Foundation has invested more than $9 million to support union-district partnerships in eight communities with a common goal: to accelerate the achievement rate for under-achieving low income and minority students. In addition to financial support, the Foundation supports grant recipients with expertise and best practices, gleaned from its work with school districts and evidence-based research.

“When teachers, unions, and communities focus on learning conditions, student performance improves,” Sanford said. “All of the sites we funded have tremendous records of capacity for collaborative reform and prepared exciting and clear proposals for how they will use our investment to close their community’s most pressing student achievement gaps. They join a national network of educators who are eager to share knowledge and experiences around reform.”

Lee County, FL and Omaha, NE each received first year, $250,000 grants, after completing a rigorous six month planning period. In Lee County, staff in nine high-need schools will receive training for continuous improvement as a collaborative way to drive school turn-around. In Omaha, four high-need elementary schools will engage in whole school reform planning with a focus on improved instructional quality and equity through an expanded teacher role.

Columbus, OH and Springfield, MA, have received second year, $250,000 grants, for their proposals to continue focused work to accelerate the achievement rate for under-achieving low income and minority students.

The Columbus plan supports pre-service training to give student teachers high quality practice and support in urban schools, extends the district’s well regarded teacher assistance and evaluation program; and creates high-quality professional learning communities, to encourage networking and ongoing peer to peer learning. The Springfield plan supports a collaborative instructional leadership team model that was designed for and is being implemented in six high-need elementary schools. Data fluency training for teachers will improve instructional practices and home visits will improve parent engagement.

“Our research-based strategy shows that developing and strengthening partnerships among local unions, school districts, and community organizations creates a powerful force for improving student performance and is a vehicle for systemic reform,” Sanford said. “We support educators and unions that hold themselves accountable for student success. Our sites use data-driven research and practices to find the most effective methods to improve student achievement.”

Learn more about Columbus’ Peer Assistance and Review work and Seattle, WA and Springfield, MA home visit programs.

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About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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