Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The NEA Foundation Funds Union-District Plans to Close Achievement Gaps in Nebraska and Florida

$50,000 Planning Grants to be Used to Create a Roadmap for Five-year Effort to Improve Student Performance

(Washington, DC)  (April 5, 2011) – The NEA Foundation announced today that it will build on the success of its Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative by awarding a public education partnerships in Lee County, Fla. and Omaha, Neb. $50,000 planning grants. The partnerships, comprised of leaders from the local education association, school district, and community partners will use the funding to support joint work that will improve the quality of instruction to increase achievement rates for low income and minority students, while raising performance for all students.

Over the next six months, the teams will develop a proposal that describes their approach to make this effort enduring. Based on a review of their proposal, the Lee County partnership may receive a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the NEA Foundation to implement the strategy. The implementation grants will be announced in the fall. The Lee County proposal will be considered along with a proposal from a Omaha, Neb. public education partnership that also received a planning grant.

“Through this Initiative, we increase the ability of school districts, local unions, and communities to work together to boost achievement for all students,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “These partnerships proposals will assess their readiness, build capacity, and develop a shared vision and set of aligned, systemic strategies that close the achievement gaps.  And it may qualify for our larger, multi-year implementation grant.”

The partnership’s proposal will focus on ways they will work together to strengthen three areas of intervention in public education:

  • Increased teaching effectiveness designed to close the achievement gap by ensuring that teachers have the skills they need to reach the neediest students;
  • Community and parent engagement designed to generate support for improvement efforts and to bring necessary resources for achieving the vision and outcomes; and
  • System alignment and coherence designed to increase capacity at the district level to ensure school-level success

To date, the NEA Foundation has invested more than $8 million in its signature, district-based Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative.  The Foundation piloted the Initiative by investing $6 million in three districts with a high number of under-achieving low income and minority students in Hamilton County (Chattanooga), Tenn; Milwaukee, Wis; and Seattle, Wash.  With early results from local evaluative efforts showing significant and positive changes in teaching and learning, the Foundation expanded the initiative by awarding grants to three new sites in 2010: Columbus, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; and Durham, N.C

The planning grants are by invitation only and are based on a process and set of criteria that include: student population and demographics; local associations affiliated with the National Education Association; regional diversity; and stable association and district leadership. 


Pictured from left are: Marshall T. Bower, Esq., President & CEO, The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools; Donna Mutzenard, Executive Director, Island Coast FEA Service Union; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO, The NEA Foundation; Mark J. Castellano, President, Teachers Association of Lee County; Georgianna Mc Daniel, Director of Personnel, School District of Lee County; Terri Kinsey, Grants Coordinator, School District of Lee County.

Pictured from left are: Dr. John Mackiel, Superintendent, Omaha Public Schools; Harriet Sanford, President & CEO, The NEA Foundation; Shelley Henderson, Director, Communities In Schools of Omaha; Chris Proulx, President, Omaha Education Association; Gerry Huber, Executive Director, General Administration, Omaha Public Schools; Willie Barney, President, The Empowerment Network

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 www.neafoundation.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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