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From school-to-farm programs to endangered species field study in Mexico, public school educators are exploring new pathways to student learning.


WASHINGTON, DC (August 4, 2014) - In Windsor Heights, IA, Heather Anderson, a first through eighth grade educator, will introduce urban students to agriculture through a school-to-farm program, with visits to small organic farms, historical farms, large production farms, and the Iowa State University Bio-Century Learning Farm. In Ridgeville, OH, Jody Yoxthimer, a tenth through twelfth grade educator, will embark on a 10-day field assignment in the Valle de los Cirios Biological Reserve in Baja, Mexico, where she will study unique desert and marine flora and fauna, and bring back to her students and colleagues information about medicinal plants, endangered species, and specialized adaptations that help organisms survive in isolated environments.  


This is a small, random sample of the innovative work the NEA Foundation is funding with its latest round of education grants: awarded to 51 educators across 28 states for a total of $177,000.


“With these grants, we are supporting educator-driven solutions that contribute to improved student performance in public schools,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative approaches to the benefit of students across the country.”  


The NEA Foundation awards two levels of grant funding, $2,000 or $5,000, for two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning and Leadership Grants for high-quality educational professional development activities.


A team of 20 educators, many former grantees, carefully reviewed all applications and evaluated each one against a set of criteria. Funded educator grants were selected for the quality of the grant proposal ideas and their potential for enhancing student achievement.


Over the past decade, the NEA Foundation has invested more than $7.1 million in teaching grants to support the work of almost 4,500 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning and Leadership Grants. To learn about these educators’ projects, visit the NEA Foundation’s Grantee Archive. Search for grantees and projects by most recent, grade level, subject, state, or keyword.


The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next education grant deadline is October 15, 2014. Application forms and a video with step-by-step instructions on how to apply can be found in the Grants to Educators section of the NEA Foundation website.


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The NEA Foundation is proud to recognize 39 educators as recipients of the 2015 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, one of public education’s most prestigious awards.

 

WASHINGTON, DC  (June 24, 2014) – The NEA Foundation announced today the 39 recipients of the 2015 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, one of public education’s most prestigious awards. The awardees are highly accomplished professionals: 13 percent are certified by the National Board for Professional Standards and 75 percent hold masters degrees.

 

They will be recognized at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 13, 2015. One of public education’s most anticipated events, the gala attracts more than 850 of the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.

 

“We give these awards annually to honor and promote excellence in education and to elevate the profession. Educators like these are critical to their students’ academic success, and they deserve national recognition,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are thrilled that California Casualty has joined us again this year to pay tribute to educators who are making such a difference in the lives of students in classrooms across the country.” 

 

“Educating our youth is so critically important. California Casualty is proud to partner with the NEA Foundation to pause and celebrate excellence in teaching,” said Beau Brown, Chairman and CEO of California Casualty.

 

The educators were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate. Each educator’s school will receive a $650 award.

 

From the 39 state awardees, five finalists will be selected to receive $10,000 cash awards. At the conclusion of the Washington, DC gala, one finalist will be named the nation’s top educator and receive an additional $25,000.

 

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards. Find more information about the awards and photos of the awardees.

 
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From marine biology field trips to professional development workshops in Peru, the NEA Foundation extends funding to 47 public school educators to improve student learning.


WASHINGTON, DC (April 23, 2014) – In Sacramento, CA, Brenda Grueneberger, an eleventh and twelfth grade arts educator, will help students correspond with architect mentors from across the nation to redesign a section of their high school. In Kualapuu, HI, Diane Abraham, a fifth grade educator, will lead students on an expedition to Kaneohe Bay, where they will collect samples and analyze levels of salinity, oxygen, turbidity, and acidity. And in Terre Haute, IN, Melissa Jordan, a seventh grade science educator, will attend the 2014 Educator Academy in Iquitos, Peru, where she will collaborate with scientists, researchers, and fellow educators on citizen science projects and field work.


This is a small, random sample of the innovative work the NEA Foundation is funding with its latest round of grants: awarded to 47 educators across 23 states for a total of $175,000.


“With these grants, we are supporting educator-driven solutions that contribute to improved student performance in public schools,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative approaches to the benefit of students across the country.” 


The NEA Foundation awards two levels of grant funding, $2,000 or $5,000, for two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning and Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.


A team of 20 educators, many former grantees, carefully reviewed all applications and evaluated each one against a set of criteria. Funded grants were selected for the quality of the grant proposal ideas and their potential for enhancing student achievement.


Over the past decade, the NEA Foundation has invested more than $7.1 million in grants to support the work of almost 4,500 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning and Leadership Grants. To learn about these educators’ projects, visit the NEA Foundation’s Grantee Archive. Search for grantees and projects by most recent, grade level, subject, state, or keyword.


The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next grant deadline is June 1, 2014. Application forms and a video with step-by-step instructions on how to apply can be found in the Grants to Educators section of the NEA Foundation website.


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The NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows engage in year-long study


WASHINGTON, DC (March 18, 2014) –The NEA Foundation today announced the names of 31 public school educators who will participate in the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship. With this honor, they join a unique cohort of award-winning educators who will spend a year building their global competency skills, the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.


“In order for students to be prepared for the global age, their educators must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to teach in the global age,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our Global Learning Fellows program has an intentional focus on supporting educators as they strengthen their global competencies: investigating the world beyond one’s immediate environment; recognizing multiple perspectives; communicating ideas effectively with diverse audiences; and taking action to improve conditions.”


The fellowship expands on the NEA Foundation’s mission to advance student achievement by investing in public education that will prepare all students to learn and thrive in a rapidly changing world. It is designed to help educators, all recipients of the NEA Foundation’s Award for Teaching Excellence, acquire the necessary skills to integrate global competence into their daily classroom instruction, advance pedagogy in their school/district, prepare students to thrive in the interconnected  global age, and thus contribute to the closing of the global achievement gap.


The Fellowship builds a structured and collaborative learning experience that supports educators as they acquire global competence skills.  Over the course of one year, Fellows are supported by the NEA Foundation staff, partners, and other field experts, as they work through the following:

 

  1. Readings and webinars to introduce global competence and country specific concepts;
  2. Online coursework on global competence and country specific concepts;
  3. Introductory language learning;
  4. A two-day professional development workshop with sessions led by leaders in global competency and country-specific knowledge; and
  5. An international field study designed to focus on the themes of global competence, education (both practice and issues of international, national, and state policy) and economics.


The international field study in China, from June 20-30, includes visits to schools in Beijing and Xi’an to provide educators with structured opportunities to observe high quality instruction and to interact with Chinese teachers and administrators. It also includes opportunities to investigate China’s historical and cultural significance.


In preparation, the Fellows will complete an online course to provide them with a framework to contextualize their experiences in China by examining the impact of its historical and cultural legacies on contemporary Chinese society and educational system.


The NEA Foundation has also partnered with Rosetta Stone to provide Fellows with basic Mandarin language training. “As we know, language is the road map to other cultures and is therefore an important tool for building global understanding,” Sanford said.


Later in the year, the NEA Foundation will share the Fellows’ experiences and observations through blog posts and photos.


At the conclusion of the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, educators create a lesson plan, unit plan, or full curriculum integerated with global competency skills. By creating this plan, and then sharing with educators around the world via an open source platform, Fellows are contributing to an increasing field of knowledge on this topic. Furthermore, the Fellows become positioned to lead the profession by becoming advocates for global learning and global competence within their schools, communities, and districts. 


Educators from around the world can access 2013 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows’ plans via an open-source platform, BetterLesson.com, with dozens of global lesson plans created by previous fellows that can easily be replicated.


Names and photos of the 2014 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows are posted on the NEA Foundation’s website. Find other details about the Fellowship, including photos from a workshop and a video about the awards program and fellowship.


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Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver accepts award at Washington D.C. Gala


Washington, DC (February 12, 2014) –Special Olympics received the Security Benefit Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 7, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver accepted the award on behalf of Special Olympics. Watch a video of Shriver’s acceptance speech.


Past recipients of this prestigious award include former President Bill Clinton, First Book, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Street Workshop. The NEA Foundation presents this award to individuals and organizations for their lifelong commitment to advancing public education. It is typically presented to those who work outside the field. As part of this award, Security Benefit Corporation is giving a $5,000 contribution to Special Olympics.


Since 1968, Special Olympics has worked to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Special Olympics athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. The organization inspires individuals and communities to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.


According to the World Health Organization, up to three percent or almost 200 million people of the world’s population have intellectual disabilities, making this population one of the largest disability populations in the world. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.


“Unlocking the unique potential that exists in all individuals is one of the most important things we can do to help young people succeed in school and in life,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are delighted to honor the work of Special Olympics to help these remarkable athletes achieve their goals.”


“As the world gathers in Sochi for the Winter Olympic games, it seems appropriate that we honor an organization that, for more than 40 years, has transformed the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said Michael P. Kiley, Security Benefit Corp. Chief Executive Officer. “The magic of Special Olympics lies in how the power and joy of sport shifts focus to what these athletes CAN do, not what they can't. Attention to disabilities fades away as the athletes succeed.”


“On behalf of the global Special Olympics movement, I am honored to receive the Security Benefit Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to Special Olympics,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver. “When my mother founded Special Olympics 45 years ago she demonstrated the tenacity, passion and spirit that everyone can and should change the world for persons with intellectual disabilities through sport.  Today, Special Olympics is not just a sports organization-- it is a social revolution using sports to achieve its goals of inclusion, acceptance and joy for all.”


Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the NEA Foundation’s gala attracts nearly 800 leaders from the education, business and philanthropy sectors. Special Olympics was honored along with 36 of the nation’s top educators, who received the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence.


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from Security Benefit, Bank of America, California Casualty, Horace Mann Educators Corporation, NEA Member Benefits, Pearson Charitable Foundation, and Promethean.

 

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About Security Benefit
Security Benefit is a 122-year-old, Kansas-based insurance company which in recent years has become one of the fastest growing retirement savings and income companies in the industry. Through a combination of innovative products, exceptional investment management and a unique distribution strategy, we have become a leader in a full range of retirement markets and wealth segments. Security Benefit is indirectly controlled by Guggenheim Partners, LLC. To learn more about Security Benefit, visit www.securitybenefit.com.

 
About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than four million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

WASHINGTON, DC  (February 7, 2014) –On Friday, February 7, at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, Kimberley Gilles, an English educator at Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA, received one of public education’s top honors: the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.


Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the NEA Foundation’s gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. The NEA Foundation presented nearly 40 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters of public education over the course of the program. Gilles’ award was the evening’s finale.


“Gilles has been selected for this award by her peers because she has attained the highest teaching standards, as illustrated by her exemplary instruction, advocacy for the profession and staunch support of public education,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “In her classroom, she shares her passion for social justice to inspire students to lift up their own voices through reading and writing.”  


Phylicia Rashad, a Tony Award-winning actress, singer, stage director, and educator, hosted the event. Rashad was nominated for two Emmy Awards for her role as Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” and became the first African-American actress to win a Tony Award for a dramatic leading role.


For the first time, the educators’ students, colleagues, and supporters were able to watch the celebration via a live webcast on the NEA Foundation’s website.

 

This year’s event featured performances by nearly 80 elementary through high school students from Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools. Student performers took the more than 800 national education leaders and supporters in attendance on a journey around the globe with cultural performances from salsa dancing, madrigal singing, and African drumming, to a finale performance joined by Rashad.


The Foundation and its guests also celebrated their teachers, who received on-stage recognition.


Gilles was one of five finalists for the top award; all five finalists received special recognition at the gala, the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, and $10,000. The other four finalists included:

 

  • Eileen Sheehy, an AP government and politics and U.S. government educator at Billing West High School in Billings, MT;
  • Kathleen Sims, an early childhood special education and school readiness educator at Foley Elementary School in Foley, MN;
  • Brian Sites, a social studies, math, and technology educator at Rivers Edge High School in Richland, WA;
  • Christopher Stone, a language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science educator at Pond Hill Elementary School in Wallingford, CT.


Gilles’ students have already benefited from her award. Last fall, they received digital arts training, which they used to create an original video honoring their teacher. Watch the student-made video, which premiered at the gala.


She was nominated for the award by the California Teachers Association, and is one of 36 public school educators nominated by their state education associations who were also honored.


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Funding will expand program in Milwaukee to 5 new schools; farming Project grows students’ interest in STEM


MILWAUKEE, WI (January 29, 2014) - AT&T and the NEA Foundation are teaming up to increase low-income students’ interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education by supporting the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative through a two-year contribution that  includes $98,000 that will directly impact the program.


The goal: provide more students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need for 21st century jobs and develop curriculum and instructional content that educators can use to build similar programs nationwide.


“Projects like these empower educators to develop and use proven practices to deliver rigorous, engaging learning experiences that we know excite and interest underrepresented student groups in STEM,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.


“In order to keep our country’s economic growth and innovation engine moving, it’s critical that we develop STEM skills in our young people,” said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin.  “Programs like this one with the NEA Foundation ignite the interest of the next generation in the STEM skills they’ll need to succeed through exciting, real-world applications.”


MPS’ Urban Schools Aquaponics (USA) initiative was selected because of its early success in advancing STEM education among low-income and minority students. The contribution will support the expansion of the program to five new schools, reaching a total of 1,500 MPS students over two years.


It will also support the development of a cohesive, comprehensive aquaponics curriculum aligned with the newly released math and science standards that will be piloted in the participating schools. Ultimately, aquaponics coursework would be available in all MPS high schools and it would be a component of science coursework in all MPS K-8 schools, with the potential to reach all 78,500 students in the district.


“Aquaponics is a strong part of our STEM education efforts and we’re grateful and proud to be able to strengthen and grow that program,” said MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton.  “This program gives students hands-on STEM experience, and exposes them to career options in a new and growing field.”


Aquaponics is a highly efficient and sustainable form of farming in which water from aquatic animals is used to feed hydroponically grown plants. The plants filter the water, which is then re-circulated back to the fish. Aquaponics programs enable students to use and explore science, math and engineering principles in a variety of ways as they gain valuable 21st century skills and knowledge.


“Through its Aquaponics program, MPS is providing our young people with the STEM education they need to be prepared for careers in the 21st Century,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  “We are excited this innovative program is expanding to reach even more students thanks to this public-private partnership.”


Over the last three years, MPS’ Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative has been integrated into nine new schools, thanks in part to support from the NEA Foundation and the AT&T Foundation.  This new contribution will support five new schools, for a total of 18 Milwaukee public schools.  


Research indicates that underperformance in STEM education arises from a variety of complex issues: teachers with little professional support; inadequate alignment of standards and curriculum; and insufficient understanding of the relevance to students’ lives about the need to achieve in these subjects. This project will focus on providing more personal, engaging, coordinated, and consistent STEM learning.


MPS’ Aquaponics initiative is one of two contributions awarded nationally as part of a $300,000 total contribution that will also support the development of case studies and evaluation of the two programs from fall 2013 through fall 2015.  Project EATS, a program of the Active Citizens Project, in New York City, NY, was also selected.


Formative and summative evaluation will be employed throughout the funding period to assess progress in both cities, to identify areas for improvement, gather evidence of success, and enable future replication in schools across the country, with the goal of increasing high school students’ engagement, interest, and excellence in STEM.


Read more about the foundations’ STEM work in the NEA Foundation report, "Harnessing the Potential of Innovative STEM Education Programs: Stories of Collaboration, Connectedness and Empowerment." Watch videos to hear from students and educators involved in the Milwaukee project.


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About Philanthropy at AT&T: AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. © 2014 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies.

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AT&T & NEA Foundation extend program to more local students; develop curriculum that can be replicated nationwide


NEW YORK, NY (January 29, 2014) -  AT&T and the NEA Foundation are teaming up to extend a popular urban farming program that advances STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning in New York City public schools through a two-year contribution that  includes $98,000 that will directly impact the program. The program, Project Eats (known as PE), is an initiative of the Active Citizens Project that builds farms on school grounds and gets students involved in the farms’ development and care.


PE will be offered in five city high schools that previously did not offer the program, potentially reaching more than 1,500 students from fall 2013 through fall 2015. The program will provide more students with the skills and knowledge needed for 21st century jobs and will develop curriculum and classroom content that teachers can use to begin similar programs in other urban schools nationwide.


PE was selected because of its early success in advancing STEM education among low-income and minority students. The program is one of two awarded nationally as part of a $300,000 total contribution from AT&T that will also support the development of case studies and evaluations of the two programs. The second program that was selected is the Urban Schools Aquaponics Initiative in Milwaukee, WI.


“Projects like these empower educators to develop and use proven practices to deliver rigorous, engaging learning experiences that we know excite and interest underrepresented student groups in STEM,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.


“AT&T is thrilled to help expand Project Eats and build on our work to advance STEM learning in New York City’s indoor and outdoor classrooms,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President, AT&T. “As STEM skills are becoming a necessary aspect of an increasing number of industries and jobs, it is important to teach our students how those skills are applied to different fields. This program will expose New York City students to a unique learning environment, showing the versatility of STEM education and how it is used in almost any sector of the workforce.”


Research indicates that underperformance in STEM education arises from systemic issues: teachers with little professional support; inadequate alignment of standards and curriculum; and insufficient understanding of the relevance to students’ lives about the need to achieve in these subjects. Both projects will focus on providing more personal, engaging, coordinated, and consistent STEM learning.


PE builds farms on school grounds enabling students to work with experienced farmers to grow, package, and market their products as they acquire skills and expertise in homemade product manufacturing, business and marketing, promotion, and sales. With the new funding, PE will be offered in five new high schools, potentially reaching more than 1,500 students. The contribution will also be used to standardize a four-year curriculum, with more focus on STEM learning, as well as experiential and peer-to-peer learning.


Formative and summative evaluation will be employed throughout the funding period to assess progress in the New York City and Milwaukee programs to identify areas for improvement, gather evidence of success, and enable future replication in schools across the country, with the goal of increasing high school students’ engagement, interest, and excellence in STEM.


Read more about this work in the NEA Foundation report, "Harnessing the Potential of Innovative STEM Education Programs: Stories of Collaboration, Connectedness and Empowerment." Watch videos to hear from students and educators involved in the Milwaukee project.


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About Philanthropy at AT&T:AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. © 2014 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies.


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AT&T and the NEA Foundation extend programs in Milwaukee, NYC; develop curriculum that can be replicated nationwide


WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 29, 2014) AT&T and the NEA Foundation will support the expansion  of popular urban farming programs in Milwaukee, WI and New York City, NY  to  increase inner city students’ interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through a two-year total contribution of $300,000 for Fall 2013 through Fall of 2015. The goal: provide more students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need for 21st century jobs and develop curriculum and instructional content that educators can use to build similar programs nationwide.


The Urban Schools Aquaponics Initiative in Milwaukee, WI and Project EATS, a program of the Active Citizens Project, in New York City, NY, were selected because of their early success in advancing STEM education among low-income and minority students.


“Projects like these empower educators to develop and use proven practices to deliver rigorous, engaging learning experiences that we know excite and interest underrepresented student groups in STEM,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.


“In order to keep our country’s economic growth and innovation engine moving, it’s critical that we develop STEM skills in our young people,” said Nicole Anderson, Executive Director of Philanthropy at AT&T. “Programs like this one with the NEA Foundation ignite the interest of the next generation in the STEM skills they’ll need to succeed through exciting, real-world applications.”


Research indicates that underperformance in STEM education arises from systemic issues: teachers with little professional support; inadequate alignment of standards and curriculum; and insufficient understanding of the relevance to students’ lives about the need to achieve in these subjects. Both projects will focus on providing more personal, engaging, coordinated, and consistent STEM learning.


Aquaponics is a highly efficient and sustainable form of farming in which water from aquatic animals is used to feed hydroponically grown plants. The plants filter the water, which is then re-circulated back to the fish. Aquaponics programs enable students to use and explore science and math principles in a variety of ways as they gain valuable 21st century skills and knowledge.


Thanks to support from the NEA Foundation and AT&T, over the last three years, the Urban Schools Aquaponics Initiative has been integrated into nine new schools, for a total of 13 Milwaukee public schools. A professional learning community meets regularly and allows educators and schools to exchange ideas, brainstorm ways to improve, and bring in outside experts to present new information.


The new contribution will support five new schools, reaching a total of 1,500 Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students over two years. It will also support the development of a cohesive, comprehensive aquaponics curriculum aligned with the newly released math and science standards that will be piloted in the participating schools. Ultimately, an aquaponics curriculum would be available to all 49 MPS high school and 125 K-8 schools, with the potential to reach all 78,500 students in the district.


In New York City, Project EATS (PE) builds farms on school grounds enabling students to work with experienced farmers to grow, package, and market their products as they acquire skills and expertise in homemade product manufacturing, business and marketing, promotion, and sales. With the new contribution, PE will be offered in five additional high schools, potentially reaching more than 1,500 students. The funding will also be used to standardize a four-year curriculum, with more focus on STEM learning, as well as experiential and peer-to-peer learning.


Formative and summative evaluation will be employed throughout the funding period to assess progress in both cities, to identify areas for improvement, gather evidence of success, and enable future replication in schools across the country, with the goal of increasing high school students’ engagement, interest, and excellence in STEM.


Read more about this work in the NEA Foundation's report, "Harnessing the Potential of Innovative STEM Education Programs: Stories of Collaboration, Connectedness and Empowerment." Watch videos to hear from students and educators involved in the Milwaukee project.


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About Philanthropy at AT&T: AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. © 2014 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies.


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WASHINGTON, DC  (November 21, 2013) – Five educators will receive the 2014 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000, and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Awards Gala to be held on February 7, 2014 in Washington, DC. They are:


  • Kimberley Gilles, language arts educator at Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA;
  • Eileen Sheehy, Advanced Placement government and politics and U.S. government educator at Billing West High School in Billings, MT;
  • Kathleen Sims, early childhood special education and school readiness educator at Foley Elementary School in Foley, MN;
  • Brian Sites, social studies, mathematics, and technology educator at River’s Edge High School in Richland, WA;
  • Christopher Stone, language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science educator at Pond Hill School in Wallingford, CT.


The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence are given annually at the Foundation’s black-tie event— known as the Academy Awards of public education— that attracts more than 800 national leaders from the public education, philanthropic, and business sectors.  The awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.  


“These educators have been selected for this award by their peers because they have attained the highest teaching standards, as shown by their exemplary instruction, advocacy


for the profession, attention to diversity, leadership in professional development, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Honoring them is our way of thanking them for their excellent work.”


In addition to the recognition, students and educators at the awardees’ school will receive digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation.  Video profiles of the awardees will be produced during the trainings and featured at the Awards Gala.  


“We are pleased to honor these five teachers with the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence,” said Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of Horace Mann. “These educators teach a variety of topics, each playing an instrumental role in making sure the children of tomorrow are well-educated. Horace Mann is proud to showcase the great work done by these educators.”  


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, and California Casualty.


For the first time, this year, on February 7, 2014, the NEA Foundation will live stream the event on its website, enabling students, peers, and families of the awardees to join in the celebration.  


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Crystal Brown, Vice Chair; Sean Patrick Corcoran, Christian Duffus, Peter Heckman, Julian Vasquez Heilig, and Carmen Ortiz-McGhee, Members


WASHINGTON, DC  (November 7, 2013) – The NEA Foundation announced today that Crystal Brown, chief communications officer and executive director of communications at the University of Maryland, will serve as the new vice chair, while five new members will join its board of directors.


“Crystal brings deep expertise in the education field and in public relations, having represented education clients from the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Her guidance and leadership are especially important, at a time when education and communications changes in the education sector are occurring so rapidly and the tools used to support and discuss education are changing at the same pace. We welcome her leadership as we undertake bold efforts to reconceptualize the focus and role of educators to prepare students to thrive in this rapidly changing global economy.”


Crystal Brown is a public relations, marketing, and communications veteran who has developed successful media relations programs, branding strategies, and award-winning campaigns for corporate, nonprofit, and foundation clients. Previously, Brown held the position of senior vice president for the PK-12 practice at Widmeyer Communications. In this role, she oversaw strategy for the firm’s largest clients, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Brown also served as senior vice president of E-Luminate Group, a marketing and public relations firm specializing in education technology and education policy. During her 10 year tenure, she successfully raised the national profile of many long-term clients, including the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Dell, LeapFrog, Blackboard, NEA Member Benefits, the Institute for Museums & Library Services, 3M, and the National Council on the Aging. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Communications Skills. 


“The NEA Foundation’s efforts to improve outcomes for students will depend in part on our ability to share knowledge and to engage education leaders to help advance our work,” said Brown.  “I am delighted to accept this leadership role during a pivotal time in our history. Public support of education will be key to the future of our children, our communities, and our nation.”


The NEA Foundation also announced the names of five new board of directors members: Sean Patrick Corcoran, associate professor of educational economics at New York University; Christian Duffus, founder of LEAF College Savings; Peter Heckman, former president and CEO of the Horace Mann Educators Corporation; Julian Vasquez Heilig, associate professor of educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin; and Carmen Ortiz-McGhee, executive vice president of sales at Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions.


“Not only are they savvy and strategic experts in their fields, each of our new board members offers a unique perspective on public education drawn from their experience and relationships within the academic, public, non-profit, and private sectors,” Sanford said. “The Foundation will greatly benefit from the impact of their work and commitment to education reform, as they move into new leadership roles on our Board.”


Sean Patrick Corcoran is associate professor of education economics at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and an affiliated faculty of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. He has been a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, since 2004, and was visiting scholar in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation in 2005. He is currently conducting several studies on the high school choice behavior of middle school students in New York City.


Christian Duffus is the founder of LEAF College Savings, LLC, an education focused, digital payments company that makes it simple and secure for parents, family, friends, and organizations to contribute to a child's college savings. Additionally, he founded the Scholars Club (now part of Florida Gulf Coast University), a leading extracurricular student organization promoting a peer culture of accomplishment and academic excellence among “at-risk” students throughout Southwest Florida. Duffus began his career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. He earned a MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia and a BS from Florida A&M University.


Peter Heckman is the recently-retired president and chief executive officer of The Horace Mann Companies, the largest multiline insurance group focusing on the personal insurance and retirement needs of the K-12 educational community. Heckman also served on the Board and as Treasurer of the Springfield Public Schools Foundation. He received his MBA degree (with distinction) from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.


Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.  He is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Warfield Center for African and African American studies at the same institution. Since 2007, he has served as an associate director for the University Council of Education Administration. He blogs at Cloaking Inequity. He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis, and a master’s degree in Sociology from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters of Higher Education and a bachelor’s degree of History and Psychology from the University of Michigan.


Carmen Ortiz-McGhee is executive vice president of sales for Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions, a division of Aon, the leading global risk management, reinsurance and human capital resources consulting and outsourcing firm. In this role, she leads the sourcing, vetting, and development of joint go-to market strategies with Women and Minority-owned firms who operate in the same verticals as Aon.  Ortiz-McGhee also drives Aon Cornerstone revenue generation and oversees all Cornerstone activities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States.  She is a Dean’s List graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in psychology.  

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Outstanding records of achievement qualify five teams for the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning


WASHINGTON, DC (September 16, 2013) –
The NEA Foundation has selected five new teams led by teacher union presidents and superintendents from across the country to join the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, a national effort to address challenges facing public education. The new teams hail from: St John the Baptist Parish (LA) Public Schools; Durango (CO) School District 9-R; West Springfield (MA) Public Schools; Clark County (NV) School District; and San Antonio (TX) Independent School District.


Teams were competitively selected based on applications co-authored by teacher union presidents and superintendents demonstrating their ability to address difficult issues of systems change and collaborative reform, with a sense of urgency and focus. The NEA Foundation also sought to develop a cohort whose actions plans would reflect a diverse set of issues, increasing what it will learn from these sites’ experiences in order to share with the field.


“Each team has identified issues most critical to their students and has made a commitment to work together toward a common goal: to improve the quality of education for their students,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “The teams will participate in a two-year program becoming part of a network of collaborative teams tackling some of the most pressing issues in public education, such as engaging and motivating teachers to be the drivers of their individual and collective professional growth through the design of comprehensive development systems— including career ladders. And each will develop an action plan with a focus on the impact it will have on instructional practices and ultimately student learning.”


These teams join five others, now in their second year. Together, they are addressing complex issues of educator commitment to higher performance standards and training for evaluators and peers, while also implementing comprehensive evaluation systems, such as Peer Assistance and Review (PAR), strengthening the use of professional learning communities, broad community engagement, and teacher mentoring.


The Institute supports the local work in several ways. Staff and coaches provide technical assistance and data-based feedback to the teams, in support of their joint reform work. Learning resources, including curricula addressing the context of educational reform, new forms of labor-management relations, and educational equity for all students are also provided to help build knowledge and capacity. Teams will become part of a community of practice, in which they will share experiences and learn from one another.


New this year is the development of online curricula developed by experts in the field specifically for union-district leadership teams and designed to provide professional learning experiences to support collaborative work. Modules can be used by teams to support their work in specific ways. Topics include Leading Change and Reform and New Forms of Labor-Management Relations.


“We truly believe that it will be through this kind of deep collaborative work that we will see the changes required to prepare every student for college, career, and life,” Sanford said.


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The NEA Foundation Awards 52 Grants to Support Educators’ Innovative Ideas


WASHINGTON, DC (July 12, 2013) — In Columbus, OH, Charles Steinbower will lead a civil rights and social justice unit at William K. Willis High School to teach students about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the southern United States and apartheid on past, present, and future South Africa using readings, panel discussions, and a traveling exhibit that will focus on the injustices of the landmark Emmett Till case. In Milton, VT, Courtney Reckord, an art teacher at Milton High School, will introduce “Art: A Common Language” to inspire communication between students in India and Milton, VT by sharing students’ original art on the Vermont Young Writer’s Project website. And in Richmond, VA, Brianne Gunn of Falling Creek Middle School will conduct a service-learning project that will teach students about clean-up efforts in the James River watershed, giving students the tools necessary to lead a community river clean-up day.


This is a small and very random sample of the innovative work the NEA Foundation is funding with its latest round of grants: awarded to 52 educators across 26 states for a total of $187,000, reaching a total of nearly 18,000 students and more than 1,800 educators.


“With these grants, we are supporting educator- driven solutions that contribute to improved student performance in public schools,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative approaches to the benefit of students across the country.”  


The NEA Foundation awards two levels of funding, $2,000 or $5,000, for two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning and Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities. Of these, thirteen have been awarded for literacy projects in collaboration with strategic Foundation partner Mazda.


A team of 20 educators, many former grantees, carefully reviewed all applications and evaluated each one against a set of criteria. Funded grants were selected for the quality of the proposed ideas and their potential for enhancing student achievement.


The NEA Foundation has invested more than $8.6 million in grants to support the work of almost 4,000 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants. To learn about these educators’ projects, visit our newly redesigned Grantee Archive, where you can search for grantees and projects by most recent, grade level, subject, state, or keyword.


The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next grant deadline is October 15, 2013. Application forms and a video with step-by-step instructions on how to apply can be found in the Grants to Educators section of our website.


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WASHINGTON, DC (June 17, 2013) – The NEA Foundation today announced the names of the 36 public school educators who will receive the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, one of the nation’s most prestigious honors.


These educators will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 7, 2014.  Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala attracts more than 850 of the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.


“We give these awards annually to honor and promote excellence in education and to elevate the profession. Educators like these are critical to their students’ academic success, and they deserve national recognition.” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are thrilled that California Casualty has joined us again this year to pay tribute to educators who are making such a difference in the lives of students in classrooms across the country.”  


“Educating our youth is so critically important. California Casualty is proud to partner with the NEA Foundation to pause and celebrate excellence in teaching,” said Beau Brown, Chariman and CEO of California Casualty.


The educators were nominated by the National Education Association’s state affiliates.  Each educator’s schools will receive awards of $650.  


From the 36 state awardees, five finalists will be selected to receive $10,000 cash awards. At the conclusion of the Washington, DC gala, one finalist will be named the nation’s top educator and receive an additional $25,000.


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from California Casualty, NEA Member Benefits, Pearson Foundation, and the Horace Mann Educators’ Corporation.


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The NEA Foundation Announces the 2013 Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellows


WASHINGTON, DC (April 23, 2013) –
The NEA Foundation today announced the names of 36 award-winning public school educators who, as the Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellows, will build their global competency skills, or the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.


“In order for students to be prepared for the global age, their educators must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to teach in the global age,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our Global Learning Fellows program has an intentional focus on supporting educators as they strengthen their global competencies: investigating the world beyond one’s immediate environment; recognizing multiple perspectives; communicating ideas effectively with diverse audiences; and taking action to improve conditions.”


The fellowship expands on the NEA Foundation’s mission to advance student achievement by investing in public education that will prepare all students to learn and thrive in a rapidly changing world. It is designed to help educators acquire the necessary skills to integrate global competence into their daily classroom instruction, and prepare students to thrive in the interconnected  global age, and thus contribute to the closing of the global achievement gap.


The Fellowship builds a structured and collaborative learning experience that supports educators as they acquire global competence skills. Over the course of one year, Fellows are supported by the NEA Foundation staff, partners, and other field experts, as they work through the following:

  1. Readings and webinars to introduce global competence and country specific concepts;
  2. Online coursework on global competence, country specific concepts, and interactive language learning;
  3. A two-day professional development workshop with sessions led by leaders in global competency and country-specific knowledge; and
  4. A study-tour designed to focus on the themes of global competence, education (both practice and issues of international, national, and state policy) and economics.


The tour of Brazil, from June 19-28, includes visits to schools in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to provide educators with structured opportunities to observe classroom instruction and to interact with Brazilian teachers and administrators. It also includes opportunities to investigate Brazil’s rich historical and cultural landmarks.


In preparation, the Fellows will complete an online course to provide them with a framework to contextualize their experiences in Brazil by examining the impact of its historical and cultural legacies on contemporary Brazilian society and educational system.  


The NEA Foundation has also partnered with Rosetta Stone to provide Fellows with basic Portuguese language training. “As we know, language is the road map to other cultures and is therefore an important tool for building global understanding,” Sanford said.


Together with the Pearson Foundation, the NEA Foundation will share the Fellows’ experiences and observations through blog posts and photos as they travel.


At the conclusion of the Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, educators begin working  on a final project to create a lesson plan, unit plan, or full curriculum integerated with global competency skills. By creating this plan, and then sharing with educators around the world via an open source platform, Fellows are contributing to an increasing field of knowledge on this topic. Furthermore, the Fellows become positioned to lead the profession by becoming advocates for global learning and global competence within their schools, communities, and districts.   


Names and photos of the 2013 NEA Foundation Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellows are posted on the NEA Foundation’s website. The tour is sponsored by the Pearson Foundation and the NEA Foundation and is designed by Education First. Complimentary Portuguese language training is provided to each of the Fellows by Rosetta Stone.


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The NEA Foundation Awards 55 Grants to Support Educators’ Innovative Ideas


WASHINGTON, DC (March 25, 2013)  —In Oakland, CA, Kathleen Bailey dreamt up the “Healthy Academy” at Oakland Technical High School to teach students about nutrition, cooking, and the impact of various food choices on the environment and local community through class demonstrations, health fairs, and writing assignments meant for publication. In Portland, OR, Michelle Peake, a school counselor at César Chávez School, will lead a group of Advancement via Individualized Determination (AVID) students in an environment awareness experience on sustainability, recycling, and clean energy at Oregon State University. And in Mount Washington, KY, Jackie Kessler of Mount Washington Elementary School will help provide school-wide professional development through a nationally-recognized program for the mastery of Common Core Standards called “Thinking Strategies.”

 

This is a small and very random sample of the innovative work the NEA Foundation is funding with its latest round of grants: awarded to 55 educators across 28 states for a total of $176,000.

 

“With these grants, we are supporting educator- driven solutions that contribute to improved student performance in public schools,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative approaches to the benefit of students across the country.” 

 

The NEA Foundation awards two levels of funding, $2,000 or $5,000, for two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning and Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities. Of these, nine have been awarded for literacy projects in collaboration with strategic Foundation partner Mazda.

 

A team of 20 educators, many former grantees, carefully reviewed all applications and evaluated each one against a set of criteria. Funded grants were selected for the quality of the proposed ideas and their potential for enhancing student achievement. Eighteen grantees plan to conduct interdisciplinary projects. The remaining grantees will address nine different subject areas, reaching a total of nearly 21,000 students and more than 1,600 educators at schools, where the average free or reduced lunch rate is 48 percent.

 

 

The NEA Foundation has invested more than $8.6 million in grants to support the work of almost 4,000 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants. To learn about these educators’ projects, visit our newly redesigned Grantee Archive, where you can search for grantees and projects by most recent, grade level, subject, state, or keyword.

 

The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next grant deadline is June 1, 2013. Application forms and a video with step-by-step instructions on how to apply can be found in the Grants to Educators section of our website.


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The NEA Foundation Funds Project for English Language Learners to Discover California History


WASHINGTON, DC (January 15, 2013) — Janet Hughes and Lianne Loomis of La Mirada Elementary School in San Ysidro, CA have completed a $5,000 Student Achievement Grant from the NEA Foundation. The program supported fourth grade students’ participation in historic reenactments to teach them about California history. Hughes aimed to make California history understandable and meaningful to students who were English Language Learners.


“With these grants we are helping educators to improve their practice so students can increase their academic achievement and develop 21st century skills,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables students and educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative work.”


Students used iPod Touches to record their experiences at the “History in a Trunk” presentations, during a train ride and visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano, and during a tour of Old Town San Diego. They also spent a night on the sailing ship, Star of India, where they got a glimpse of another historical era. Hughes said her students can now speak in English about California’s Native Americans, the Spanish and the building of the missions, the Gold Rush, and more.


The NEA Foundation funds and supports public educator solutions to improve student performance with two categories of grants: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities. The Foundation awards about 150 of these grants every year. On average, each grant impacts the learning of about 200 students.


The 2013 deadlines for applications are Feb. 1, June 1, and Oct. 15. Application forms and an instructional video on how to apply can be found on the NEA Foundation’s Grants to Educators page.


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Daniel Leeds and First Book also honored at Washington, D.C. Event


WASHINGTON, DC (February 8, 2013) — On Friday, February 8, at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, Leslie Nicholas, a language arts teacher at Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Kingston, PA, received one of public education’s top honors: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.

 

Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. The NEA Foundation presented more than 40 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters of public education over the course of the program. Nicholas’s award was the evening’s finale.

 

“Nicholas has been selected for this award by his peers because he has attained the highest teaching standards, as illustrated by his exemplary instruction, community engagement, and staunch support of public education,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “In his classroom he brings learning to life, weaving together poetry, history, and music, for example, to help his students discover that Rosa Parks is the Beatles’ ‘blackbird singing in the dead of night.’”

 

This year’s event included student performers from the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps schools in Lee County, FL. Students brought to life through dance, music, and readings, the essays, and poems written by their peers and inspired by their teachers.

 

Kevin Eubanks, a musician, composer, former music director for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and like his mom, a music teacher, emceed the evening’s program. Performing together for the event’s finale, Eubanks and the Lee County students entertained more than 800 leaders from the education, philanthropic, and business sectors who were in attendance. The Foundation and its guests also celebrated their teachers, who received on-stage recognition.

 

Nicholas was one of five finalists for the top award; all five finalists received special recognition at the gala, the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, and $10,000. The other four were:

 

  • Kellie Blair Hardt, special education teacher, Metz Middle School, Manassas, VA;
  • Melissa Collins, second grade teacher, John P. Freeman Optional School, Memphis, TN;
  • Julia Marshall, teacher interventionist and literacy coach, Rosewood Elementary International School, Rock Hill, SC;
  • Jennifer Thomas, an instructional coach and English language arts teacher, San Jose Unified School District, San Jose, CA

 

Nicholas’s students have already benefited from his award. Last fall, they received digital arts training, which they used to create an original video honoring their teacher.

 
Watch their video, which premiered at the gala.


He was nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and is one of 38 public school educators nominated by their state education associations who were also honored.

 

In addition to the outstanding educators, the NEA Foundation presented Daniel Leeds, Cofounder and Board Chair of Alliance for Excellent Education, with The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for his extraordinary commitment to informing and transforming public education policy at the national level.


The NEA Foundation also presented First Book, a DC-based literacy non-profit organization, with The Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for pioneering groundbreaking channels to provide new books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children in need.  

 

About the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is a national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. At this annual event, the Foundation recognizes and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, The Horace Mann Companies, The Pearson Foundation, California Casualty, and Promethean.


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Washington, DC (February 5, 2013) – First Book will receive The Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on Feb. 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. Past recipients of this prestigious award include former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Street Workshop.


The NEA Foundation presents this award to individuals and organizations for their lifelong commitment to advancing public education. It is typically presented to those who work outside the field.

 

First Book has pioneered groundbreaking channels to provide new books and educational resources at deeply reduced prices, and for free, to schools and programs serving children in need. Ninety seven percent of First Book's revenue goes directly to these books. To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million new books to children in thousands of communities throughout the US and Canada.

 

“Instilling a love of reading in young children is one of the most important things we can do to help them on the path to success in school and in life,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “This is why First Book’s goal to end global illiteracy is so critical.”

 

“Studies show that interest in reading more than triples among children who have received new books from First Book,” said Michael P. Kiley, Security Benefit Corporation Chief Executive Officer. “We applaud First Book for transforming the lives of children, and we are pleased and honored to recognize First Book for their efforts to end illiteracy.”

 

In partnership with Lee County Public Schools and the NEA Foundation, First Book will donate 20,000 new books in honor of the six student authors whose work was selected to be presented at the NEA Foundation’s annual Gala.

 

“Supporting teachers is at the heart of what we do at First Book,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president and CEO. “Teachers, librarians, support staff, and other educators are doing the hard work every day of transforming lives, and our mission is to ensure they have the books and resources they need. This award is so important to us, and we’re honored and delighted to receive it.”

 

Known as the academy awards of public education, the NEA Foundation’s gala attracts close to 800 leaders from the education, business and philanthropy sectors. First Book will be honored along with 38 of the nation’s top educators, recipients of the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, and Daniel Leeds, Co-founder and Board Chair of the Alliance for Excellent Education, who will accept the NEA Foundation’s Award for Philanthropy in Public Education.

 

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from the Horace Mann Companies, NEA Member Benefits, the Pearson Foundation, California Casualty, and Promethean.

 

About First Book

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. By making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit them online or follow their latest news on Facebook and Twitter.


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Washington, DC (January 28, 2013) – Daniel Leeds, Co-founder and Board Chair of the Alliance for Excellent Education and founder of the Education Funder Strategy Group, will receive the NEA Foundation’s Award for Philanthropy in Public Education at this year’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on Feb. 8, 2013 in Washington, DC.  One of public education’s most prestigious honors, the award will recognize Leeds for his extraordinary commitment to informing and transforming public education policy at the national level. 

 

The NEA Foundation presents this award to individuals, foundations, and corporations of stature in recognition of their significant and demonstrated financial commitment to improving public education or supporting public schools, students, and educators.

 

"We’re paying tribute to Daniel Leeds for his demonstrated leadership in the development and implementation of a federal public education policy agenda that supports effective high school reforms,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Since he helped found the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2001, Dan has been at the forefront of their work to make quality public education for all students a national priority.  Their focus on the six million American students who are most at-risk of dropping out of high school addresses a critical problem in our nation’s schools.” 

 

“Daniel Leeds’ policy advocacy is enhanced by his leadership in forging collaborations with public education funders and his entire family’s commitment to improving public education,” said Mark Chichester, Chairman of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors. “In addition to the Alliance and the Education Funders Strategy Group, Leeds and his extended family, the Leeds and Jobin-Leeds, have launched, funded, and advocated on behalf of the Schott Foundation for Public Education and the Institute for Student Achievement and other organizations with similar goals.”

 

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award from the NEA Foundation. My advocacy for education is a reflection of my family’s philanthropic values and leadership,” said Leeds. “Certainly our democracy and economy are powered by a strong public education system. Our teachers are building the future of our nation and we all share responsibility for their success in whatever way we can help as citizens and voters, taxpayers and charitable givers. We know that every penny of investment in teaching and learning is returned a hundred-fold in the quality of our society, security, enterprise, and happiness as a people.”

 

Leeds also serves as President of Fulcrum Investments LLC, a private investment firm. Until the sale of CMP Media in 1999, he was President of International Publishing and a member of the Office of the President. CMP, a leading media company, published titles such as Information Week, Computer Reseller News and Electronic Engineering Times. The company was cited as “One of the Best Companies to Work for” by Fortune and Working Women magazines.

 

Leeds will be honored along with 38 recipients of the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. This year, the NEA Foundation will also present First Book, a DC-based literacy non-profit organization, with The Security Benefits Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education.  Kevin Eubanks, a musician, composer, former music director for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and like his mom, a music teacher, will host the evening’s event.

 

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, California Casualty, and Promethean.


About the Alliance for Excellent Education

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information, visit www.all4ed.org.


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WASHINGTON, DC (September 19, 2012) – Five educators will receive The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, $10,000, and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education awards gala to be held on Feb. 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. They are:

  • Kellie Blair-Hardt, special education teacher, Metz Middle School, Manassas, VA;
  • Melissa Collins, second grade teacher, John P. Freeman Optional School, Memphis, TN;
  • Julia Marshall, teacher interventionist and literacy coach, Rosewood Elementary International School, Rock Hill, SC;
  • Leslie Nicholas, language arts teacher, Wyoming Valley West Middle School, Kingston, PA;
  • Jennifer Thomas, an instructional coach and English language arts teacher, San Jose Unified School District, San Jose, CA


The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence are given annually at the Foundation’s black tie event that attracts 850 national leaders from the public education, philanthropic and business sectors, and is known as the Academy Awards of public education.  The awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. 


“These educators have been selected for this award by their peers because they have attained the highest teaching standards, as shown by their exemplary instruction, advocacy for the profession, attention to diversity, leadership in professional development, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Honoring them is our way of thanking them for their excellent work.”


In addition to the recognition, students and educators at the awardees’ school will receive digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation.   Video profiles of the awardees will be produced during the trainings and featured at the awards gala. 


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, and California Casualty.


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Outstanding records of achievement qualify five teams for the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning


WASHINGTON, DC (August 22, 2012) –  The NEA Foundation has selected five new teams led by teacher union presidents and superintendents from across the country to join the second cohort of the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, a national effort to address challenges facing public education. The new teams hail from: San Juan Unified, CA; Jefferson County Public Schools, CO; Escambia Public Schools, FL: Fayette County Public Schools, KY; Oregon City Public Schools, OR.


The teams will participate in a two-year program, becoming part of a network of collaborative teams tackling some of the most pressing issues in public education, such as the creation of a strategic compensation plan and engaging and motivating teachers to be the drivers of their individual and collective professional growth through the design of comprehensive development systems— including career ladders.


“We welcome these teams and feel confident in their capacity and joint commitment to lead the profession through the design of strong reform programs,” said NEA Foundation President & CEO Harriet Sanford. “The Institute will provide opportunities for them to engage in a partnership to change teaching and learning in their communities, and ultimately, improve the opportunities of their students.”


Teams were competitively selected based on applications co-authored by teacher union presidents and superintendents demonstrating their ability to address difficult issues of systems change and collaborative reform, with a sense of urgency and focus. Sanford said the Foundation also sought to develop a cohort whose actions plans would reflect a diverse set of issues, increasing what it will learn from these sites’ experiences in order to share with the field.


Founded on the belief that good instructional practices will have the greatest impact on student learning, the Institute was formally launched in 2010. The first cohort includes union/administrative teams from: School District U-46 (Elgin), IL; Peoria Public Schools, IL; Springfield Public Schools (District 816), IL; Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville), KY; Cambridge Public Schools, MA; Montgomery County Public Schools, MD; Portland Public Schools, ME; Columbus Public Schools, OH; Fond du Lac School District, WI; and Milwaukee Public Schools, WI.


Together, they are addressing complex issues of teacher commitment to higher performance standards and training for evaluators and peers, while also implementing comprehensive evaluation systems, such as Peer Assistance and Review (PAR).


Each of the Institute’s inaugural cohort of teams identified issues most critical to their students and communities. The Institute supports the local work in several ways. Staff and coaches provide technical assistance and data-based feedback to the teams, in support of their joint reform work. Learning resources, including curricula addressing the context of educational reform, new forms of labor-management relations, and educational equity for all students are also provided to help build knowledge and capacity.


Powerful examples of the Institute’s impact appear in Fond du Lac, WI, where the joint team actively works with groups like the Boys and Girls Club to engage low-income students in meaningful community activities. In Montgomery County, MD, the joint team, including a representative of higher education and teacher training, developed a graduate certificate in teaching for equity and social justice. The first group of students completed four courses and reported improvement in their practice as a direct result.


“We truly believe that it will be through this kind of deep collaborative work that we will see the changes required to prepare every child for college and career,” Sanford said.


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The NEA Foundation Awards 60 Grants to Support Educators’ Innovative Ideas


WASHINGTON, DC (June 19, 2012) — In South Holland, IL, Michele Liberio’s non-verbal students will use iPads to become members of a highly social technological environment as they learn how to communicate in class more efficiently. In Hudson, MA, Elizabeth Joki’s students will collaborate with wildlife biologists to care for, study, release, and track endangered turtles, learning about scientific research methods, turtle ecology and biology, and the complexities of species conservation. In Norfolk, VA, Dr. Angela Eckhoff will guide a teacher learning community of recent graduates as they navigate their first teaching year in a primary grades classroom.


This is a small and very random sample of the innovative work the NEA Foundation is funding with its latest round of grants: awarded to 60 educators in 28 states, for a total of $216,000.


“With these grants, we are supporting educator- driven solutions that contribute to improved student performance in public schools,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our support enables educators to engage in a wide variety of innovative approaches to the benefit of students across the country.” 


The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement, and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities. Of these, four are the NEA Foundation– EarthEcho Water Planet Challenge Grants, which support service-learning programs that improve the health of our water planet.


A team of 20 educators, many of whom are former grantees, carefully reviewed all applications and evaluated each one against a set of criteria. Funded grants were selected for the quality of the proposed ideas and their potential for enhancing student achievement. The latest grants were awarded to educators in 28 different states. 


The NEA Foundation has invested more than $8.6 million in grants to support the work of almost 4,000 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants.


The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next grant deadline is October 15, 2012. Links to the application, and grant guidelines, including a video with step by step instructions on how to apply, can be found at neafoundation.org.


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The NEA Foundation and California Casualty to Honor Educators at Washington, DC Awards Gala in February


WASHINGTON, DC (July 25, 2012) – The NEA Foundation today announced the names of the 38 public school educators who will receive the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, one of the nation’s most prestigious honors.


These educators will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 8, 2013.  Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala attracts more than 850 of the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.


“We give these awards annually to honor and promote excellence in education and to elevate the profession. Educators like these are critical to their students’ academic success, and they deserve national recognition.” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are thrilled that California Casualty has joined us again this year to pay tribute to educators who are making such a difference in the lives of students in classrooms across the country.”  


“Educating our youth is so critically important. California Casualty is proud to partner with the NEA Foundation to pause and celebrate excellence in teaching,” said Beau Brown, President and CEO of California Casualty.


The educators were nominated by the National Education Association’s state affiliates. Each educator’s schools will receive awards of $650.  


From the 38 state awardees, five finalists will be selected to receive $10,000 cash awards. At the conclusion of the Washington, DC gala, one finalist will be named the nation’s top educator and receive an additional $25,000.


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from California Casualty, the Horace Mann Companies, NEA Member Benefits, and the Pearson Foundation. 


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New Grant Helps Build on Success


WASHINGTON, DC (May 25, 2012) -- The NEA Foundation today announced that it will expand its ongoing work to document and share  successful strategies being used by collaborative union-district teams to contribute to improved student performance, thanks to a $550,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The announcement comes on the heels of the US Department of Education’s Labor-Management conference, “Collaborating to Transform the Teaching Profession,” that brought together hundreds of leaders in the national education reform movement to discuss ways for unions and districts to better work together to improve student learning.


“For many years, the NEA Foundation has provided philanthropic and technical assistance to support the critical joint work of union district teams to make their districts and schools better places for students to learn and teachers to teach,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help us accelerate the sea change underway in the way unions and districts work together to ensure high quality teaching and seed change by leveraging resources and widely disseminating knowledge.”


“The only way for meaningful reform to take root is with teachers and their unions fully engaged as partners. We appreciate that the Gates Foundation understands that, and supports this effort,” said Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association. “It is exactly this type of collaboration that allows all of us to look our students in the eyes and assure them that they’re at the center of our reform efforts.” 


The work will leverage the expertise developed from the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative (beginning in 2004) and Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (funded by a $358,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009), across 10 school districts.


Together, these teams of union, district, and community leaders are building enduring infrastructures and systems that are tackling head-on issues of increased teaching effectiveness through school-based collaborative leadership teams focused on issues of teaching and learning and teacher evaluation systems and professional growth models.


The new grant will fund the development of case studies that illustrate successful union-district collaborative practices, identify lessons learned, and provide operational tools that will help other communities begin this work. Funding will also help accelerate the development of the NEA Foundation’s collaborative, skill-based curriculum to build the capacity of local leaders to engage in jointly designed reform. This online curriculum is slated for a Fall 2012 launch.


Learn more about the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative and its Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.


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Seven Thought Leaders to Advise and Accelerate Efforts to Close U.S. Achievement Gaps


WASHINGTON, DC (May 15, 2012) -- The NEA Foundation today named seven globally recognized scholars and practitioners to serve as the inaugural cohort of its Senior Fellows Advisory Group. Drawing upon the unique talents and expertise of these leaders, the Foundation aims to bring critical thought leadership to deepen and accelerate improvement of systems to increase teaching effectiveness and the quality of academic and non-academic supports to students and their families. The Senior Fellows will provide insight into the “why” of the achievement gap, how to address it, and on broader issues of effective teaching and collaborative reform.

The NEA Foundation Senior Fellows Advisory Group members are:

  • Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto;
  • Gloria J. Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Professor of Urban Education in Curriculum & Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  • Luke Merchlewitz, second grade teacher (MN) and Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellow, in Winona, MN, and adjunct faculty member at Winona State University;
  • Susan Moore Johnson, Jerome T. Murphy Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Academic Dean from 1993 to 1999;
  • Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University;
  • Mary Pinkston, high school math teacher (DE), Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellow, Brandywine High School, District, and State Teacher of the Year; and
  • Jerry D. Weast, retired Superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MD).


“Formation of this group represents an important milestone in the growth of the NEA Foundation’s work and impact,” said Harriet Sanford, President  & CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Over the years, we have formally engaged the expertise, knowledge and resources of many groups, including our Board of Directors, local educators, corporate and philanthropic partners, and others. Guidance from our Senior Fellows will support further our local education reform projects that are co-developed by unions, districts, and communities and that are squarely focused on achieving equity and excellence.”


Partnerships like these are a signature feature of the NEA Foundation Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative and Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, in which collaboration helps ensure a high-quality education for all students.


Learn more about the NEA Foundation’s Senior Fellows Advisory Group.


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The NEA Foundation Awards $1,000 to Top 10 Best Ideas


WASHINGTON, DC (May 10, 2012) -- When given a chance to voice their thoughts on how gaming can be used in student learning, educators have an unlimited number of ideas. To spotlight some of the best, the NEA Foundation, in partnership with Microsoft Partners in Learning and the U.S. Department of Education, is recognizing 10 innovators, selected by their peers and a panel of experts, to receive the NEA Foundation’s Challenge to Innovate (C2i) Gaming Award, and $1,000.


“Game-based learning and interactive technology can help build technological and communication competencies valued in the workplace and the 21st century economy.  So we asked educators to share, discuss, and evaluate ideas about how to use these tools to support classroom instruction,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “We discovered educators who are using technology in fun, creative ways. By initiating this discussion and knowledge sharing, we hope to help educators better equip their students with the skills they’ll need to be successful in college, work, and life.”


The NEA Foundation uses crowd sourcing on the Department of Education’s innovation portal as a way to ensure that educators have a voice in determining new instructional strategies. Continuing a multi-year partnership, the Foundation partnered with Microsoft to solicit and share ideas on how gaming could be integrated into the curriculum to meet students where they are highly engaged while improving their learning.


The 10 winners were selected from a pool of more than 150 ideas from 38 states and five countries by their peers and a panel of educational experts. They are:

  • Adeline M. Bee, Attleboro High School, Attleboro, MA
    Idea Name: Crime Scene Reporter;
  • John V. Binzak, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA
    Idea: Friends of a Feather;
  • Kimberly Brown, Signal Mountain High School, Chattanooga, TN
    Idea: Curriculum APPlications;
  • Melanie Dolifka, Falcon Elementary School of Technology, Peyton, CO
    Idea: Challenge the World;
  • Serdar Aslan, Osman Balci, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Michael A. Evans, and Anderson Norton, Virginia Tech; Mido Chang, Florida International University
    Idea: The Candy Factory Game;
  • Andrew Miller, ASCD/Buck Institute for Education, Tacoma, WA
    Idea: Creating Citizens with Game Based Learning and Authentic Assessment;
  • Soumya D. Mohanty, University of Texas—Brownsville, Brownsville, TX
    Idea: STEM learning with video games;
  • Brendan Noon, Williamson High School, Williamson, NY
    Idea: Game-Based Learning with Online ‘Quiz Shows’;
  • Gerol C. Petruzella, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA
    Idea: Dungeons and Discourse;
  • Kathryn Thomas, Windber Area Middle School, Windber, PA
    Idea: Learn to Earn: Game Based Learning;


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Ford Foundation and Will Allen also honored at Washington, DC, Event


WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2012) — On Friday, February 10, at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, Danielle Kovach, a special education teacher at Tulsa Trail Elementary School in Hopatcong, NJ, received one of public education’s top honors: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.


Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools.  The NEA Foundation presented more than 30 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters of public education over the course of the program. Kovach’s award was the evening’s finale.


“Danielle’s innovative lessons have made her a favorite among her students and a leader among teachers of special education,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Her use of the latest technology to engage students – from showing videos on her Smart Pad to projecting books on a screen– is just one of the many reasons that she is being honored with this award.”


This year’s event included an original score composed by a public school educator and celebrated the connection between educators and their students. Talented students, ranging from a flutist and an alto saxophone player to a young dance prodigy, entertained more than 800 leaders from the education, philanthropic, and business sectors who were in attendance. The Foundation and its guests also celebrated their teachers, who received on-stage recognition.


Kovach was one of five finalists for the top award; all received special recognition at the gala, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, and $10,000. The other four finalists were:

  • Lisa Esquibel, a kindergarten educator at Davis Elementary School in Cheyenne, WY;
  • Jonathan Gillentine, an early childhood educator at Reverend Benjamin Parker School in Kaneohe, HI;
  • Cara Haney, a kindergarten educator at Panther Lake Elementary in Kent, WA; and
  • Jeff Peneston, a ninth grade science educator at Liverpool High School in Liverpool, NY.


During the gala, videos honoring each of the finalists premiered. The videos were created by their students, with digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation.  


Kovach was nominated for the award by the New Jersey NEA. She was one of 35 public school educators nominated by their state education associations who were honored at the event.


In addition to the outstanding educators, the NEA Foundation presented the Ford Foundation with The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for its significant commitment to public education and ongoing support of public schools, students, and educators.


The NEA Foundation also presented Will Allen, a former professional basketball player-turned urban agriculturalist and founder of Growing Power, Inc., with The Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for his commitment to advancing public education.  


Dominique Dawes, the three-time Olympic gymnast and motivational speaker, emceed the event.


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WASHINGTON, DC (January, 23, 2012) – When Will Allen left his Rockville, MD family farm to play basketball at the University of Miami, he thought he’d left farming for good. But after playing professional basketball around the world, followed by a career as an accomplished corporate salesperson, Allen found himself back in the business of growing. Only today, in addition to healthy food, he’s growing young minds and building a movement.


Widely considered one of the leading authorities in the expanding field of urban agriculture, Allen teaches inner-city youth about farming, business management and marketing, by taking them through the entire process, from planting seeds to selling produce at farmers’ markets. To date, he has developed partnerships with more than 10 Milwaukee Public School (MPS) schools to put into action school-based food projects that include curriculum-based programs complying to Wisconsin State Standards. Will Allen’s organization, Growing Power, has also supplied 40,000 Milwaukee Public School children in 75 elementary schools with the food it grows. Many of these youth have participated in a hands-on tour of the Growing Power Community Food Center or were introduced to the organization through an educational video accompanying their locally grown snack.  


For this work, the NEA Foundation will present Allen with The Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education during the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on Feb. 10, 2012. Past recipients of this prestigious award include former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Street Workshop.


“Will Allen is making an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of students,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We have supported his workshops for teachers and students that include training in urban sustainable agriculture practices, because we believe that in addition to encouraging students to adopt healthy habits for themselves and our planet, he is also providing them with 21st century skills they’ll need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”


At Growing Power, a farm and community food center that he founded in Milwaukee, WI, and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, he trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.


“I am honored to receive this NEA Foundation Award on behalf of my dedicated staff, community partners, Milwaukee Schools, and the City of Milwaukee,” said Mr. Allen. He continued, “Without our valuable community partners, such as the Milwaukee Public School System and the NEA Foundation, much of our work would not be possible….and I especially give thanks to Milwaukee children, their families, and teachers for their commitment to working with us to improve our community’s health, our educational system, and to provide opportunities for our young people to lead the way in developing a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable society.”


In 2010, Mr. Allen joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity. Allen was also recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.


At the NEA Foundation Gala, which attracts more than 800 leaders from the education, business and philanthropy sectors, Allen will be honored along with 35 of the nation’s top educators, recipients of the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, and Jeannie Oakes, director of Ford Foundation’s Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs, who will accept the NEA Foundation’s Award for Philanthropy in Public Education on behalf of the organization.


About the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is a national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. At this annual event, the Foundation recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from Bank of America, California Casualty, Horace Mann Educators Corporation, NEA Member Benefits, the Pearson Foundation, and Security Benefit Corporation.


About Growing Power

Growing Power was started in Milwaukee, WI, in 1993 by Will Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “Genius Award” who has long worked to produce and deliver healthy food to low-income communities. It is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.


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National Awards Gala Salutes Excellence in Public Education on Feb. 10, 2012


WASHINGTON, DC (February 6, 2012) – The NEA Foundation will honor the Ford Foundation with its Award for Philanthropy in Public Education, one of public education’s most prestigious honors. The award recognizes Ford for its conviction that social, economic, and political equality requires that marginalized and disadvantaged people have access to high-quality education and for its work to strengthen educational systems around the globe toward that goal. The award will be presented on February 10, 2012 at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, DC.


The Ford Foundation believes that social, economic and political equality all require that marginalized and disadvantaged people have access to high-quality education. Toward that end, it focuses on strengthening educational systems to ensure all young people receive an education that enables them to engage in meaningful work and contribute as citizens in diverse societies. For this work, the organization will receive the NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education.


“The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education recognizes the Ford Foundation’s significant commitment to public education, and its ongoing support of public schools, students, and educators,” said Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Ford Foundation’s visionary education programs are truly inspiring as is their 75 year history of advancing progressive social change around the globe. As one of world’s preeminent philanthropies, the Ford Foundation has improved the lives of many people.  From supporting the arts to advancing social and economic justice to endorsing sound environmental practices, the Ford Foundation’s impact is nothing less than extraordinary.”


“We are honored to receive this award from an organization that shares our commitment to public education,” said Jeannie Oakes, director of Ford Foundation’s Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs. “Like the NEA Foundation, we seek to make a difference by collaborating with and supporting organizations that work to create a system of public schools, so that the nation’s most vulnerable young people have equitable, high-quality schooling and the full range of post-secondary opportunities.” 


“When districts, teachers, unions and communities focus on student learning, their performances improve,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our work shows that engaging all stakeholders increases shared accountability for and investment in student success. These awards are our way of celebrating and sharing the stories of those individuals and organizations that are making a difference in the lives of students across the country and around the world. We hope that this recognition will inspire others.


Oakes will accept the award on behalf of the Ford Foundation at the NEA Foundation’s awards gala. The Ford Foundation will be honored along with 35 recipients of the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Will Allen, Founder and President of Growing Power.


About the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is a national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. At this annual event, the Foundation recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from Bank of America, California Casualty, Horace Mann Educators Corporation, NEA Member Benefits, the Pearson Foundation, and Security Benefit Corporation.


About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Visit www.fordfoundation.org for more information.


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New Challenge to Innovate Query Offers $1,000 Awards for Educators’ Best Ideas


WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 23, 2012) -- How can interactive technology and game-based learning help students learn? In its latest Challenge to Innovate (C2i) initiative, the NEA Foundation has partnered with Microsoft – US Partners in Learning to encourage public school educators to explore, share, and discuss their responses to this question on the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal. The best 10 ideas, as judged by the C2i community on the portal, will receive $1,000 cash awards and recognition as their solutions are shared with educators nationwide.


“Nine out of 10 kids, between the ages of two and 17, play electronic games in the U.S, according to a recent national study. Should these new tools be limited to simple fun, or can they open new doors to learning?” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “The next great teaching frontier is light years away from chalk and erasers. If we change the classroom conversation from a one-way exercise to an engaging process that is constantly being renewed and refined, what would happen? Can gaming and education be combined in effective ways?”


Sanford said that the Foundation created C2i last year in partnership with the Department of Education to explore crowd sourcing as a way to exchange ideas and identify innovative solutions to a range of instructional challenges. With the help of an expert panel, the Foundation reviews the community’s top selection and gives cash awards for the best ideas. To date, more than 9,350 individuals have joined the C2i community.


Proposed solutions for the gaming challenge will be accepted from Jan. 23 through March 5, 2012. To submit or to review, comment, or vote on solutions, participants must register on the Department of Education’s Portal.


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WASHINGTON, DC (October 14, 2011) — Fifteen union-district partnership teams, all supported by the NEA Foundation, met from Oct. 12-14 in Columbus, Ohio, to share and build upon approaches that teachers, their unions, district administrators, and communities have created and are using to improve the quality of teaching and student performance.


“The NEA Foundation supports educator-led policy and practice that drives collaborative reform, improving student learning and making that improvement sustainable,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our annual Cross-Site Convening provides fertile ground for proactive union, district, and community leaders to learn from experts in the field, to share and discuss their successes and challenges, and to grow the ideas that will result in meaningful change for students.”


The NEA Foundation is a non-profit, public charity that partners with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning using the levers of technical assistance/coaching and direct philanthropy.


“We know from our experience working with districts across the country that teachers and their unions can—and should be—a major force in getting initiatives off the ground and sustaining them, in partnership with school officials who understand that the knowledge, experience and passion educators bring to the teaching and learning process must be an integral part of all reform if student success is to be achieved and sustained,” Sanford said. “As we jointly launch such initiatives, teachers must also share the accountability for student outcomes with the administration and the community, and they must speak with a collective voice about the changes needed to improve the quality of teaching and the lives of their students.”


The Foundation’s annual convening of its union-district partnership teams focused on discussions and planning that support three national goals:


  • To help educators improve their practice so students can increase their academic achievement and develop 21st century skills;
  • To increase the ability of school districts, local unions, and communities to work together to boost achievement for all students; and
  • To give educators tools to reclaim their voice in shaping public education, helping them to, among other strategies, expand the scope of bargaining agreements to include a greater focus on teaching and learning.


On the first day of the convening, participants visited local schools and shared their observations with school representatives afterward. Later, Columbus school leaders, including the Columbus superintendent, the local union president, the president of the school board, discussed how increased collaboration and teacher voice in decision making has strengthened the human capital development system that promises to move the dial on teaching effectiveness and corresponding student performance.


Ronald Ferguson, of the Achievement Gap Initiative at the Harvard University, opened the second day with a charge for communities to work together to address the needs of all students. After that, participants attended workshops, led by national thinkers and practitioners. Topics, including Peer Assistance & Review (PAR), effective Professional Learning Communities, how to incorporate student voice into effectiveness measures and aligning teacher and principal evaluation measures, were selected to help teams encourage teacher voice and create systems to sustain collaboration in their communities. Teams spent the last day incorporating what they had learned and planning for the next school year.


Participating teams included:

  • Lee County, FL
  • Elgin, IL
  • Springfield, IL
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, KY
  • Cambridge, MA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Portland, ME
  • Durham, NC
  • Omaha, NE
  • Columbus, OH
  • Hamilton County, TN
  • Seattle, WA
  • Fond du Lac, WI
  • Milwaukee, WI


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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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Donna Meacham Blackman, Crystal Brown, Lola Kelly, and John C. Stocks

WASHINGTON, DC (October 27, 2011) – The NEA Foundation today announced four new members named to its board of directors: Donna Meacham Blackman, Vice President, Finance for Marriott International; Crystal Brown, Vice President of Widmeyer Communications; Lola Kelly, a high school educator; and John C. Stocks, Executive Director of the National Education Association.


New Board member Donna Meacham Blackman has held several key roles at Marriott International, Inc., including, vice president of investor relations, director of financial reporting and accounting policy, and, currently, vice president of finance. Prior to joining Marriott, in 1999, she served as senior manager with KPMG LLP in New York and Washington, D.C., working with a variety of public and private clients, from Howard University to Volunteers of America. “Donna’s background in finance and experience with non-profit organizations will serve us well, and we look forward to having the benefit of her thinking during these tough economic times,” said Harriet Sanford, the NEA Foundation president and CEO.


Crystal Brown is a veteran of public relations and communications, expertise ranging from strategy and messaging to crisis communications. Brown currently serves as vice president of the education practice at Widmeyer Communications, in which she oversees communication strategies for the firm’s largest client, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She has also worked as senior vice president of marketing communication for E-Luminate Group, a marketing firm specializing in education technology and policy. “Even before her first board meeting, we called on Crystal for help, and she delivered,” said Sanford. “Not only is she a savvy and strategic communications expert, whose advice is already making a difference, she is thoughtful and generous. We are so grateful for her many contributions.”


Lola Kelly teaches U.S. History and Government and AP U.S. History in the East Rochester School District and serves as president of the East Rochester Teachers’ Association. “As a history teacher with 35 years of experience, and an active union member for more than 30, Lola brings invaluable insights to the board that can only be found from someone who has spent most of his or her professional life in the classroom and advocating for the profession,” she said. “We are delighted to have her join us.”


“As a top-ranking official of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, John C. Stocks brings to our board a unique expertise in finding and building support for important solutions in public education,” Sanford said. “He is a true bridge builder: he has forged many new strategic alliances for the organization and spearheaded top political and membership priorities. We welcome the opportunity to find new ways to align the important work of our two organizations for the betterment of teachers and their students.”


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Top Educators to be Recognized by the NEA Foundation at its Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in February


WASHINGTON, DC (October 5, 2011 )Five educators will receive The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, $10,000, and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held on Feb. 10, 2012 in Washington, D.C. They are:

  • Lisa Esquibel, a Kindergarten teacher at Davis Elementary School in Cheyenne, WY, holds a Masters degree, ESL Endorsement, and Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project Certification;
  • Jonathan Gillentine, a Pre-K teacher at  Rev. Benjamin Parker School Kaneohe, HI is National Board Certified and holds a PhD;
  • Cara Haney, a Kindergarten teacher at Panther Lake Elementary in Kent, WA, is a National Board Certified and holds a Masters degree;
  • Danielle Kovach, a Special Education teacher at Tulsa Trail Elementary School, in Hopatcong, NJ, holds two Masters degrees: in Special Education and in Educational Technology; and
  • Jeff Peneston, a ninth grade Earth Sciences teacher at Liverpool High School in Liverpool, NY, and the 2011 New York State Teacher of the Year.


Known as the Academy of Awards of public education, the Gala features award presentations to 35 educators, who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, including the five Horace Mann awardees, announced today, and one of whom will receive public education’s prestigious honor, The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, which comes with an additional $25,000. The awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.


“These educators have been selected for this award by their peers because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their exemplary instruction, advocacy for public education, a commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Honoring these educators is our way of thanking them for their excellent work.”


“We exist as a company to support those who take care of our children’s future, and the teachers we’re honoring with this award are the best of the best,” said Horace Mann President and CEO Pete Heckman.  “We salute them for their commitment and thank them for making a difference every day.  Our collective future is brighter because of them.” The educators were nominated for the award by their states' National Education Association affiliate.


In addition to the recognition, students and educators at the awardees’ school will receive digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation. Video profiles of the awardees will be produced during the trainings and presented at the Gala in February, to an audience of 850 national leaders from the public education, philanthropic, and business sectors. 


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, and California Casualty.


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WASHINGTON, DC (July 25, 2011) – The NEA Foundation today announced that California Casualty is the title sponsor for one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for public educators, to be known as the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence.  Public school educators who are selected for this honor will be recognized at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education in Washington, DC on February 10, 2012. 


“We give these awards annually to educators to recognize and promote excellence in teaching and to elevate the profession,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “With a 60 year history serving education and school administration associations, California Casualty is a perfect partner for these awards. We are thrilled to have their help in honoring these outstanding educators whose work is making a difference in the lives of students in communities around the country.”


In addition to being honored at the Washington, DC gala, educators’ schools will receive a $650 award.


“Educating our youth is so critically important. California Casualty is proud to partner with the NEA Foundation to pause and celebrate excellence in teaching,” said Beau Brown, President and CEO of California Casualty. Educators were nominated by their NEA state affiliate.


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The NEA Foundation and California Casualty to Honor Educators at Washington, DC Awards Gala in February


WASHINGTON, DC (July 26, 2011) – The NEA Foundation today announced the names of the 35 public school educators who will receive the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for public educators.


These educators will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 10, 2012.  Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala attracts more than 850 of the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.


“We give these awards annually to educators to recognize and promote excellence in education and to elevate the profession,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are thrilled that California Casualty has joined us in honoring their work to make a difference in the lives of students in classrooms across the country.”  


In addition, the educators’ schools will receive awards of $650. “Educating our youth is so critically important. California Casualty is proud to partner with the NEA Foundation to pause and celebrate excellence in teaching,” said Beau Brown, President and CEO of California Casualty. The educators were nominated by the National Education Association’s state affiliates.  Photos and names of all of the state nominees can be found here.


From the 35 state awardees, five finalists will be selected to receive a $10,000 cash award. At the conclusion of the Washington, DC gala, one finalist will be named the nation’s top educator and receive an additional $25,000.


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, California Casualty, and the Pearson Foundation. 


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WASHINGTON, DC  (May 19 , 2011) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is partnering with Nickelodeon’s The Big Help to award 41 grants totaling $169,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to increase academic achievement and strengthen their own practice. The grants of $2,000 or $5,000 will be awarded to educators in 24 states.

For the second consecutive year, Nickelodeon is helping fund the NEA Foundation grants program through the network’s The Big Help, a long-term effort to connect kids to issues and information important in their lives. The grants support the development and implementation of educators’ ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing the following areas: environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement.

“With these grants we are helping educators to improve their practice so students can increase their academic achievement and develop 21st century skills,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “With the additional funding from Nickelodeon, students and educators will engage in a wide variety of innovative work.”  

“Through our ongoing partnership with the NEA Foundation, we’re encouraging educators to continue to develop new teaching approaches that engage kids in the classroom,” said Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Public Affairs.  “We’re thrilled that these grants are supporting innovation in education, helping students learn and excel to new academic heights.”

The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants.  The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year.  The deadline for the next review period is June 1, 2011.  Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

$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

Newest C2i challenge offers $1,000 awards for the best ideas posted


WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2011)  - Through its newest C2i challenge, the NEA Foundation in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) wants to know how mobile phone technology can be used to transform teaching and learning.  The Foundation will award up to five individuals $1,000 for the best ideas posted on the C2i page on the U.S. Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal.


The NEA Foundation’s C2i is open to public school educators, students, and other creative thinkers with an interest in improving public education.  Submissions will be accepted from April 4 – May 13, 2011. A proposed solution must effectively incorporate smart phones or cell phones. Portal registrants can also review, comment, and vote on the posted solutions.


“The use of mobile phone technology provides an important opportunity for educators and students to learn in new and different ways,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “This challenge is also a way to capture ideas from anyone interested in students learning through the use of mobile technology.”  


"Mobile devices hold a lot of promise for helping K-12 educators to re-imagine teaching and learning," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. "To continue finding ways to harness the power of these technologies, we need a constant cycle of bright new ideas from all segments of the education community – from our 21st century learners to our educators and administrators.”


To post a solution, individuals must register on the Open Innovation Portal.  The awardees will be announced in June 2011.

Top Ideas Identified through the Challenge to Innovate  


Washington, DC  (March 25, 2011) – Four educators have received $2,500 awards from the NEA Foundation for sharing their solutions to classroom challenges through the NEA Foundation’s Challenge to Innovate (C2i).  C2i is an incentive-driven networking site open to public school educators and others with an interest in improving public education by offering solutions to pressing classroom challenges.  


Launched by the NEA Foundation and the US Department of Education in September 2010 and hosted on the Department’s Open Innovation Portal, C2i has attracted participation from educators and others from more than 43 states and 5 countries.  


The following winning solutions address classroom and instructional challenges in the areas of math, reading, student voice, and parent engagement:

  • Erin Bassham of Syringa Middle School in Caldwell, Idaho submitted a solution focused on the hands-on application of math concepts by building scale models of houses;
  • Scott D. Farver of Indian Hills Elementary School of Gallup, N.M. suggested the development of new-teacher orientation materials created through student focus groups;
  • Ouita Bingham of Manor Middle School in Manor, Texas proposed a librarian-led book club/technology roundup program, and;
  • Jae Goodwin of the Charlotte A. Dunning School of Framingham, Mass. uses “Dialogue journals” in her class to prompt discussion of reading between students and parents


The NEA Foundation will launch its next challenge in partnership with the Consortium of School Networking in April.   This challenge will ask educators, students, and other creative thinkers to share their best ideas for how mobile phone technologies transform teaching and learning.


For more information on how to participate in C2i, visit the NEA Foundation website.


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Washington, DC (February 8, 2011) – On February 11, when Adora Svitak walks on stage at the NEA Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, she may be smaller in stature than the other awardees. But she will take home one of public education’s highest honors, The NEA Foundation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, which recognizes a commitment to advancing public education. And she will be accompanied by one of her favorite teachers, Julie Vindivich, who couldn’t be prouder of her star student.


Svitak is a child prodigy from Redmond, Washington, who could read and write simple words at age two and a half, wrote short stories at age four, and, at 13, is a published author and an accomplished speaker.  Described as a “tiny literary giant” for her work to promote literacy and learning, she will be the youngest individual to receive this prestigious award. Past recipients include former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Workshop.


“Hoping to instill her love of reading and writing in other children, Adora became a teacher and an author when she was just seven years old,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “At 13, she remains committed to her cause, inspiring her peers and adults worldwide with her message of literacy and learning. She is not only very gifted, she is a generous, caring, and effective advocate for education, and for these reasons we are so pleased to present this award to her.”


She promotes four causes: literacy, learning, youth leadership, and world hunger. She has shared the spotlight with celebrities such as James Earl Jones at the National Center for Family Literacy’s annual convention. She has presented to thousands of students and 400 schools and classrooms around the world, presented at the TED2010 Conference and was a Youth Ambassador for Save the Children and a Youth Ambassador for the UN’s World Food Program. 


At the NEA Foundation gala, which attracts more than 800 leaders from the education, business and philanthropy sectors, Svitak will be honored along with 31 of the nation’s top educators, recipients of the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence, and President of the Pearson Foundation, Mark Nieker, who will accept The NEA Foundation’s Award for Philanthropy in Public Education.


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Grants support efforts to improve teaching and learning in 33 states

WASHINGTON, DC  (November 16, 2010) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is awarding 57 grants totaling $252,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to improve student achievement and strengthen their own practice. The grants, of $2,000 or $5,000, were awarded to educators in 33 states.

The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.

“With support from the NEA Foundation, public school educators in schools nationwide are finding new ways to increase student engagement in learning and are sharing new approaches to instructional practice with their peers,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Our most recent grantees will use these funds on a wide range of projects: from studying brained-based teaching strategies to instructing students how to create multi-media life stories through photography, poetry, and rap.”

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year.  The deadline for the next review period is Feb 1, 2011.  Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

Twelve leadership teams selected for the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning based on record of achievement

(WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011) The NEA Foundation has selected 12 teams of teacher union and school district leaders from across the country to participate in a national effort to address challenges facing public education. On March 7 and 8, the teams joined the NEA Foundation staff in St. Louis, Mo. for the launch of the NEA Foundation’s Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.  

Through the multi-year program, the teams will collaborate to tackle some of the most pressing issues in public education, such as teacher evaluation and assignment, compensation systems and layoffs, increasing the effectiveness and relevance of professional development, and providing an equitable education to all students. The teams were chosen to participate in the NEA Foundation’s Institute because of their commitment to jointly designed union-district efforts to improve teaching and learning.

These initial teams are grouped geographically in “hubs” essentially in the Northeast and Midwest regions to facilitate interaction between and among the teams. The districts include:  Jefferson County, Ky.; Elgin, Ill.; Peoria, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Montgomery County, Md.; Cambridge, Mass.; Durham, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Erie, Pa.; Fond du Lac, Wis.; Green Bay, Wis.; and Milwaukee, Wis.

“It is evident in the work they have already begun that the school district and teacher union leaders from these 12 districts have shown a commitment to working jointly to design and deliver strong reform programs that will improve teaching and learning in their communities,” said NEA Foundation President & CEO, Harriet Sanford. “The Institute will provide opportunities for them to learn directly from each other and share experiences to the benefit of students.”


Each of the Institute’s initial participants has identified issues most critical to their students and communities. The Institute will support the local work in several ways. Staff and coaches will provide technical assistance and data-based feedback to the teams, in support of their joint reform work. Learning resources, including curricula addressing the context of educational reform, new forms of labor-management relations, and educational equity for all students are also provided to help build knowledge and capacity.

Through the Institute, the NEA Foundation also provides a comprehensive web platform that provides these and other online resources and the opportunities for teams to interact with each other.   

WASHINGTON, DC  (February 17, 2011) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is partnering with Nickelodeon’s The Big Help to award 56 grants totaling $238,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to increase academic achievement and strengthen their own practice. The grants of $2,000 or $5,000 will be awarded to educators in 32 states.

For the second consecutive year, Nickelodeon is helping fund the NEA Foundation grants program through the network’s The Big Help, a long-term effort to connect kids to issues and information important in their lives. The grants support the development and implementation of educators’ ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing the following areas: environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement.

“With these grants we are helping educators to improve their practice so students can increase their academic achievement and develop 21st century skills,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “With the additional funding from Nickelodeon, students and educators will engage in a wide variety of innovative work.  For example, in Alabama, high school chemistry students will become the teachers as they perform experiments for elementary special education students with a ‘magic show’ that makes learning science entertaining.” 

“Through our ongoing partnership with the NEA Foundation, we’re encouraging educators to continue to develop new teaching approaches that engage kids in the classroom,” said Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Public Affairs.  “We’re thrilled that these grants are supporting innovation in education, helping students learn and excel to new academic heights.”

The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants.  The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year.  The deadline for the next review period is June 1, 2011.  Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

In 2010, Nickelodeon launched The Big Help campaign, which aims to inspire a kid-led movement for positive change, focusing on four key issues: the environment; education; health and wellness, and community service.  Over the past year, Nickelodeon has distributed $1 million through The Big Help campaign to schools and community organizations across America to help fund projects that align with our mission to empower kids to be agents of change in their own communities.

Pearson Foundation and Adora Svitak also honored at Washington, DC Event

WASHINGTON, DC  (February 11, 2011)  — On Friday, February 11 at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education gala, Kathy Steinhoff, a math educator from Columbia, MO, received one of public education’s top honors: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.

Known as the academy awards of public education, the gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools.  The NEA Foundation presented more than 30 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters of public education over the course of the program.  Steinhoff’s award was the evening’s finale.

“Kathy’s innovative lessons have made her a favorite among students and a leader among her peers,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Her use of technology in the classroom is just one of the many reasons that she is being honored with this award.”

This year’s event celebrated the connection between educators and their students. Talented students, ranging from a violinist and a pianist to a hip hop poet/rapper, entertained the more than 800 leaders from the education, philanthropic, and business sectors who were in attendance. The Foundation and its guests also celebrated their teacher/mentors, who received on-stage recognition.

Steinhoff was one of five finalists for the top award; all received special recognition at the gala, The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, and $10,000.  

The other four finalists were:

  • Teresa Lawrence McNeill, a Math Teacher and ESL Program Coordinator at Walter Hines Page High School in Greensboro, NC;
  • Maryann Woods-Murphy, a Spanish Teacher & Diversity Educator at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, NJ;
  • Karen Gorringe, a 6th Grade Educator at Bluffdale Elementary, in Bluffdale, UT; and
  • Terri Vest, a 7-12th Grade English and Social Studies Teacher at Twinfield Union School in Plainfield, VT

During the gala, videos honoring each of the finalists premiered. The videos were created by their students, with digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation.  They can be viewed on the NEA Foundation’s website.

Steinhoff was nominated for the award by the Missouri NEA. She was one of 31 public school educators nominated by their state education associations who were honored
at the event.

In addition to the outstanding educators, the NEA Foundation presented the Pearson Foundation with The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for its significant commitment to public education and ongoing support of public schools, students, and educators.

The NEA Foundation also presented 13-year old author, student-educator, and activist, Adora Svitak, with its Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for her commitment to advancing public education.  She was accompanied by one of her favorite teachers, Julie Vindivich.

Washington, DC (February 7, 2011) – The Pearson Foundation helps teachers, schools, academic leaders and local communities do all they can to help young people succeed. For this work, the organization will receive the NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education. One of public education’s most prestigious honors, the award will be presented on February 11, 2011 at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education gala in Washington, DC.

“The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education recognizes the Pearson Foundation’s significant commitment to public education, and their ongoing support of public schools, students, and educators,” said Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Through our partnerships with the Pearson Foundation, we have seen firsthand the impact that its creative, innovative programs have for young people and the educators in communities around the world.”

Working with a growing international network of leading public and private organizations, the Pearson Foundation provides programs and resources that help extend the efforts of leading nonprofits—including the NEA Foundation—that promote literacy, learning, and great teaching. The Pearson Foundation aims to make a difference specifically by collaborating with other organizations to share best practices, foster innovation, and find scalable solutions to the educational challenges facing young people and adults across the globe.

“When we selected global education as our theme for this year’s gala, the Pearson Foundation seemed the most appropriate choice for this award,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Through our partnerships, we have reached students from South Africa to Bogalusa, Louisiana—and beyond. In each instance, we’ve done more together to help young people and the educators who support them than we ever could have done on our own. It’s this spirit of collaboration and innovation that really distinguishes the Pearson Foundation.”

The Pearson Foundation has supported a number of important NEA Foundation initiatives.

Most recently, the Pearson Foundation has been helping the NEA Foundation to create and launch a new collaborative digital network to be used by members of the NEA Foundation’s Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Again this year, the organization is also taking part in the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence program by providing digital arts training for awardees and their students and colleagues. A team at each school created a video to honor each distinguished educators’ impact. These videos will be showcased at the awards gala and can be viewed beginning February 11 at pearsonfoundation.org.

“For five years, the NEA Foundation has graciously invited the Pearson Foundation to join with them in many significant initiatives that have connected us to inspirational educators in all corners of the world,” said Mark Nieker, President of the Pearson Foundation. “To receive this recognition by the NEA Foundation is a great honor and, we believe, it affirms that our collaborative approach is helping improve opportunities for students and teachers all over the globe.”

Nieker will accept the award on behalf of the Pearson Foundation at the NEA Foundation’s awards gala. The Pearson Foundation will be honored along with 31 recipients of the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Adora Svitak, a child prodigy and advocate for literacy and learning.

WASHINGTON, DC (January 21, 2011) -- The NEA Foundation today announced that Liz Dunning has been named its new Director of Programs. She will guide the design, implementation, and management of programs affecting the Foundation’s mission and activities to strengthen public education reform.

Prior to joining the NEA Foundation, Dunning was a Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, focusing primarily on organizational development and change issues for private- and public-sector clients. Her projects ranged widely: from the creation of a career development and professional development model for intelligence analysts to redesigning the strategic project management approach for a life insurance company.

“I was impressed by Liz’s passion for public education,” said Harriet Sanford, the NEA Foundation president and CEO.  “That, coupled with her expertise in systems change, brings us a combination of skills that I believe will serve the Foundation well, as we continue our efforts to create powerful and sustainable improvements in teaching and learning.”

Dunning has also served as the Director of Programs for the Higher Achievement Program, a DC nonprofit focusing on academic enrichment for middle school students, and as a Training Consultant for NeighborWorks America, designing community economic development curriculum for practitioners.

She received a Masters of Business Administration from Yale School of Management, with concentrations in Strategy and Nonprofit Management, and a Bachelor's degree from Kenyon College.

National Grant Funds Study Abroad, Intensive Language Training, Leadership Development

WASHINGTON, DC (November 29, 2010) --  Up to a dozen Seattle high school students will spend next summer studying abroad in the Middle East or China, thanks to a grant from the NEA Foundation.

“Study abroad inspires students’ curiosity about and knowledge of their world and gives them a competitive edge in today’s workforce,” said the NEA Foundation President and CEO, Harriet Sanford.  “The NEA Foundation supports powerful educational experiences, like these, that nurture the holistic development of students because we believe they better prepare students to learn and thrive in the 21st century.”

The scholarships are a result of a partnership between the NEA Foundation and One World Now! (OWN), which is based in Seattle and is one of the only programs in the country that prepares youth to study abroad by providing critical language and leadership training.  OWN is an innovative two- year global leadership program for underserved high school youth.

At least half of the students invited to participate will come from public schools affiliated with OWN and the NEA Foundation’s work in Seattle (Rainier Beach, Denny Middle School, Chief Sealth, and Aki Kurose).  

The OWN program provides student with multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and leadership opportunities, culminating in a summer study abroad experience for six weeks, with a follow-up international community service project upon their return to the United States. Considered to be the most transformative component, study abroad often changes the trajectory of a student’s life and influences their decision to pursue higher education.

Seattle is also one of the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative sites and has received a five year $1.25 million grant that supports programs to align curriculum and instruction, develop professional learning communities, and engage family and community members. The Seattle initiative, known as the Flight School Initiative, has two flights, each consisting of elementary, middle and high schools that form a feeder pattern.

Altogether, 16 schools, including the four participating in the study abroad program, are part of the initiative.

“We are delighted that, through our partnership with OWN, we can offer another life-changing experience that will result in enhanced educational and life opportunities for more students in Seattle’s public schools,” Sanford said.

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WASHINGTON, DC (November 18, 2010) Educators from more than 40 states responded to the NEA Foundation Challenge to Innovate’s (C2i) call to post their most pressing classroom problems and to form a virtual community where their views and experiences are being shared, discussed, evaluated, and rewarded.


“We are grateful to the Department of Education and to those educators who have helped us advance this new virtual effort,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We are eager to use this virtual tool to solicit possible solutions to these pressing classroom problems identified by the C2i community.”


Based on the ideas shared in the first challenge, the C2i community has selected four classroom-based problems as the most pressing:

  1. How can educators help students learn and use fractions, ratios, and proportions?
  2. How can classroom teachers/schools best facilitate positive parental involvement in their child’s learning?
  3. How might a teacher who has a student(s) reading significantly below grade level build a foundation of literacy skills for ultimate reading success?
  4. How can educators better incorporate student voices in decision making?


The NEA Foundation is now looking to educators and the public to find solutions to these classroom-based problems. Through Jan. 14, 2011, all are invited to visit the Department’s Open Innovation Portal to review, evaluate, discuss, and offer solutions.    


The NEA Foundation will offer up to five cash awards of $2,500 for individuals who submit solutions voted most responsive to the pressing problems listed above.


Each proposed solution should cost no more than $500 per classroom to implement and be initiated within a three- to four- month period. These solutions will be shared in a host of ways so that educators across the country can apply them in their classrooms.


For more information on how to participate, visit the NEA Foundation website, or contact Betty Paugh-Ortiz at c2i @nea.org. To register, visit the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal.


- - -

WASHINGTON, DC (September 13, 2010) - Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow, Chairman and CEO of The Oliver Group, has been named Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors.  Mark Chichester, Executive Vice President of Atlas Research LLC Group, has been named Vice-Chair.

“I am humbled by this opportunity to chair the NEA Foundation Board of Directors,” said Oliver-Farrow.  “I look forward to taking a leadership role in furthering the Foundation’s work to create powerful and sustainable improvements in teaching and learning.”

Oliver-Farrow has been a NEA Foundation board member for six years and, in addition to her more than 40 years of public relations, marketing and production experience, she has served on several corporate boards including Carefirst, Inc.; Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc.; and the Advisory Board of Comcast Cable of Washington, DC.  Since 1995, she has served as a Trustee of the Hispanic College Fund and was chair of its board. She holds numerous national awards for her contributions to the business community.

Mark Chichester has been a NEA Foundation board member for four years and has more than 16 years of senior management experience in a career that has spanned the public and private sectors, including stints at General Instrument Corporation, the US Department of State, the Institute for International Public Policy, and, most recently, the Aspen Institute. He holds degrees in business and law from The George Washington University and held a Shapiro Fellowship in the Republic of Korea.

“Elizabeth and Mark are recognized leaders—visionaries, more accurately--in their respective fields,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation. “The impact of their work is recognized across the business, non-profit, and government sectors and is matched by their demonstrated commitment to education reform and to enhanced life opportunities for all children. The Foundation will continue to benefit from their vision, dedication, and expertise as they move into new leadership roles on our Board.  I am truly honored by their service.”

In addition to announcing the officers, the NEA Foundation has named two new members to its board: Robert Adams Jr., Program Officer at The Fetzer Institute; and Jerry L. Johnson, Vice President of RLJ Equity Partners.  

Both bring a diverse professional background to the board.  Adams Jr. is an education policy specialist and advocate with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin.  He has conducted extensive research in the area of education reform and equity in the United States and abroad.  

In addition to his expertise as a principal at a private equity firm, Johnson has served in leadership roles with a wide range of local, state and international organizations, including:  the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Asia Society, and the Aspen Institute. In 2004, he was appointed by President George W. Bush as a White House Fellow to serve as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.  

WASHINGTON, DC  (September 7, 2010) - Beginning Sept. 7, the NEA Foundation, in partnership with the US Department of Education, is inviting all public school educators to join the Department’s Open Innovation Portal community to identify and solve education’s most pressing classroom problems.  The NEA Foundation will provide cash awards for the best responses.

Through this new initiative, called the Challenge to Innovate (C2i), the NEA Foundation will post a series of challenges or questions to educators on the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal. Our first challenge, running from September 7 through October 16, 2010, will ask educators to share their most pressing classroom instructional problem.  The five best ideas posted, as evaluated by the Open Innovation Portal Community, will receive $1000 each.

To participate, educators can register at the Department’s Open Innovation Portal, select the NEA Foundation C2i challenge, post their most pressing classroom challenge, and evaluate the responses of others through a scoring system. The best responses to the challenges will receive awards from the NEA Foundation and may be selected for further development.

The NEA Foundation recognizes teachers as adopters, adapters, and creators of both educational processes and products, and as agents who must organize, manage, and assume risks in solving problems.  Teachers engage in―and lead―this creative process in their classrooms, schools, and communities. 

For more information on how to apply, visit the NEA Foundation website, or contact Betty Paugh-Ortiz at bpaugh-ortiz@nea.org.

WASHINGTON, DC (August 25, 2010) — School begins this year in Columbus, Ohio, with the kick-off of “Bringing Learning to Life,” a teacher-led project to create a model of K-12 service-learning — using academic knowledge to solve real-life problems — that can be replicated nationwide.

Service-learning has long been recognized as an effective strategy for motivating students. Evidence is mounting that it also improves academic performance, raises high school graduation rates, and encourages students to aspire to a college education.

Spearheaded by NEA’s Public Engagement Project, the endeavor has been awarded an initial grant of $550,000 from Learn and Serve America, a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. government agency that also houses Americorps and Vista.

NEA’s partners in “Bringing Learning to Life” include the Columbus Education Association; The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology; Columbus City Schools, the largest school district in Ohio; and the Ohio Education Association. They will work with community groups to restore schools to their traditional role as community hubs.

Lessons and techniques learned from the project will be disseminated through NEA’s network of 50 state-wide affiliates; 14,000 community-based affiliates; and mainstream media that reach a nationwide audience.  

“The NEA Foundation is proud to support the NEA’s Public Engagement Project,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Their work mirrors ours:

building partnerships of unions, school districts, and communities to provide new tools and skills that help educators create meaningful learning opportunities for their students.”

“This is a very significant accomplishment. Competition for Learn and Serve America grants overall was quite challenging, with fewer than 10% of applications awarded,” said Nicole Gallent, Director, Learn and Serve America.

Grants support efforts to improve teaching and learning in 28 states

WASHINGTON, DC  (June 28, 2010) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is awarding 50 grants totaling $217,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to improve student achievement and strengthen their own practice. The grants, of $2,000 or $5,000, were awarded to educators in 28 states.

The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.

Twenty-seven of these grants have been awarded in collaboration and with support from NEA Foundation partners including: the National Association for Music Education (MENC) Teaching Improvisation Grants for teaching musical improvisation; and Nickelodeon Big Green Help Public Education Grants and Staples Foundation Green Grants to Public School Educators for projects that integrate green-related topics and experiences into the classroom. 

“Through these grants, educators are improving their practice so their students can master academics and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “These funds will enable educators to carry out a wide range of initiatives: from creating school gardens; to studying ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay; to attending workshops and conferences at institutions such as Columbia University.”  

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $6.6 million in grants over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership ants.  The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The deadline for the next review period is Oct. 15, 2010.  Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

Awardees to be Honored at Annual Awards Gala in  Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC (June 28, 2010)  -- The NEA Foundation today released the names of  31 educators who will receive the 2011 The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence, a prestigious national honor and public education’s only peer-nominated award that recognizes both outstanding instruction and advocacy for the profession.

“These educators have been selected by their peers because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their exemplary instruction and advocacy for public education,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Honoring them is our way to thank them for their excellent work.”

Each of the 31 affiliate awardees was nominated by their respective NEA state affiliate and will receive expenses-paid travel to the NEA Foundation’s annual awards gala to be held in Washington, DC to be held on February 11, 2011. The NEA Foundation also gives $750 in their honor to their schools.  Names and photos of the state nominees and national finalists can be viewed at neafoundation.org.

Five finalists will contend for awards at two levels:

  • The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence (one award of $25,000);
  • The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence (four awards of $10,000).

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, and the Pearson Foundation.

WASHINGTON, DC (June 9, 2010) -- The NEA Foundation announced today the hire of Betty Paugh-Ortiz as Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships. 

In this newly created position, Paugh-Ortiz will lead the development and advancement of innovation initiatives that support the mission of the NEA Foundation.  She will initially invite educators to identify innovative solutions to instructional practices as well as provide opportunities for the public to support educator efforts to close the student achievement gaps.

“Betty brings to the Foundation a unique set of qualifications,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “She has a deep understanding and appreciation for public education and will help us to expand the impact and reach of our work.”

Prior to joining the NEA Foundation, Paugh-Ortiz was Vice President of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP), where she managed the organization’s programs and events, supervised staff, conducted trainings, and developed curricula.

Paugh-Ortiz also served as director of the University of Puerto Rico-DC Initiative and as director of Maternal and Child Health at the National Council of La Raza.  She holds graduate degrees from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s degree from American University.

38 Top Educators Received the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence at NEA Foundation Gala


WASHINGTON, DC (May 3, 2010) – Thirty-eight of the nation’s top educators, selected by their state associations, received the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Public Education Gala held in Washington, DC on April 30. Gala honorees also included Nickelodeon and Jane Goodall, and the night’s eco-friendly production was emceed by Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International, Correspondent for Planet Green, and Spokesperson for Discovery Education.


“Today’s environmental challenges have captured the attention of educators and students alike. Finding solutions to these challenges is energizing teaching and learning, empowering future leaders, encouraging community service; and building real 21st century skills,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “This year, the Foundation is proud to partner with Earth-friendly skincare company, Burt’s Bees to bring 38 top educators into the spotlight as role-models for teachers across the country.”


These educators were selected by state associations because of their innovative instruction, advocacy for public education, attention to diversity, and their ability to connect students with community resources. As part of the award, schools of awardees will receive $750 in their honor and the NEA Foundation will cover the cost of their travel to the gala. 


“Burt’s Bees is honored to support innovative leadership in education, ushering youth into a new era, where stewardship of the Earth is a necessary ethos and skill-set. By supporting one of the most prestigious honors for public school educators in the country, the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation recognizes those educators who are leading positive social change at the grassroots,” says John Replogle, CEO of Burt’s Bees.


From these 38 educators, five finalists were selected for consideration for the night’s top honor, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. The four runners-up for the top honor will receive the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000. 


The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly presented the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, and the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation. Names and photos of the Burt’s Bees awardees, as well as student-produced tribute videos of the national finalists can be viewed at www.neafoundation.org.

Honors Nickelodeon for Commitment to Children and Education

Washington, DC (April 27, 2010) – Nickelodeon will receive The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for its commitment to children and to education at its annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on April 30, 2010. This award recognizes businesses and philanthropic organizations for their significant commitment to improving public education or supporting public schools, students, and educators.

“For more than 31 years, Nickelodeon has engaged and educated children across the nation and around the world,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of The NEA Foundation.  “Nickelodeon has championed the environment, health and wellness, education, and community service.  Most recently, through its Big Help Grants, Nickelodeon is providing $600,000 in direct support to schools and community-based organizations for environmentally-friendly projects that educate and inspire kids to take care of the environment, themselves, and their communities.”

“Our environmental crisis has captured the attention of educators and students alike. Study of the environment can energize teaching and learning, develop leadership, encourage community service, build 21st century skills, and ultimately improve student achievement.   “These are important outcomes that both Nickelodeon and the NEA Foundation strongly support,” said Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By investing in programs that recognize excellence in education, corporations and foundations make a critical contribution to teaching and learning. This benefits us all, as it leads to a stronger work force and more fulfilled and engaged citizens.”

Nickelodeon can be found in classrooms nationwide, providing valuable teaching resources for educational professionals and caregivers. Through its award-winning programming, including: Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, the longest-running kids’ news show in U.S. television history; Teacher.nick.com, Nickelodeon’s online resource that connects teachers to information and lesson plans based on the network’s educational programming; Cable in the Classroom; and Nick Jr., the network’s 24-hour, commercial-free, educational preschool network .

This year, Nickelodeon is supporting education through two global, multiplatform initiatives that provide tools and materials to educators and parents.  In March the network launched The Big Help, which aims to inspire a kid-led movement for positive change, focusing on four key issues: education; the environment; health and wellness, and community service.  The network also kicked off the celebration of Dora the Explorer’s 10th anniversary year with the launch of Dora’s Beyond the Backpack, a multi-platform pro-social program that champions overall school readiness for preschoolers as they prepare for the important adventure of beginning school.  

The senior vice president of Public Affairs for Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids & Family Group, Jean Margaret Smith, will accept the award at the Foundation’s awards gala, which has an eco-friendly theme. 

Jane Goodall and Nickelodeon also honored at Washington, DC Event

WASHINGTON, DC (May 1, 2010)  - On Friday, April 30, at the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, Salt Lake City educator, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, received the top honor, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. At this annual celebration of the men and women who work in America's public schools, the Foundation presented more than 40 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters.

This year's event featured an eco-friendly theme and awardees shared the stage with national leaders in the environmental movement, including event emcee, Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International, Correspondent for Planet Green, and Spokesperson for Discovery Education.

Gallagher-Fishbaugh, a second grade teacher at Dilworth Elementary School, was nominated for the award by the Utah Education Association, and was one of 38 public school educators nominated by their state associations.  All 38 educators were recognized at the event and received The Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation's Award for Teaching Excellence. The NEA Foundation donated $750 to each of the nominees' schools and covered the cost of their travel to attend the gala.

"Sharon represents the very best of the good things happening in Utah's public schools," said Kim Campbell, president of the Utah Education Association. "She is a professional educator not only dedicated to her students, but also to her profession. Her passion for education is contagious."

The following four runners-up for the top honor were given special recognition and presented with The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000.

  • Sarah Baird, a math coach at Kyrene del Milenio and Kyrene del Cielo Elementary Schools in Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Katherine Bishop, a special education teacher at Lake Park Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Tim McCollum, an eighth grade science teacher at Charleston Middle School in Charleston, Ill.
  • Bob Williams, a high school math teacher at Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska

The five awardees were introduced by video profiles created by their students with training and technical support donated by the Pearson Foundation.  Last fall, a Pearson Foundation team spent several days at each of the awardees' schools instructing students and teachers how to create and produce a video and how to use digital arts technologies. The video profiles can be viewed here.

"These educators were nominated by their peers because they attained the highest standards of the profession," said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. "Honoring them is our way to thank them for their excellent work."

In addition to the outstanding educators, the NEA Foundation presented Nickelodeon with The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for its commitment to children and to education.

"For more than 30 years, Nickelodeon has engaged and educated children across the nation and around the world," said Sanford. "Nickelodeon has championed the environment, health and wellness, education, and community service. Most recently, through its Big Help Grants, Nickelodeon is providing up to $5,000 in direct support to schools and community-based organizations for environmentally-friendly projects that educate and inspire kids to take care of the environment, themselves, and their communities."

The NEA Foundation also presented Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN messenger of Peace, with its Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for her lifelong achievements in chimpanzee behavioral research and community-centered conservation in Africa, as well as for her international environmental and humanitarian youth program, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots.

Mike Town of Redmond High School Honored at National Awards Ceremony

Redmond, Wash. (April 19, 2010) --The NEA Foundation presented Mike Town, a high school environmental science teacher at Redmond High School in Redmond, Wash., with its inaugural Green Prize in Public Education, which includes a $25,000 award and national recognition.  Town was selected to receive this honor for his Cool School Challenge program and curriculum that has helped students, teachers, and school districts reduce more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in over 150 schools.

The NEA Foundation created the Green Prize in Public Education to recognize and showcase an outstanding public school educator or program that best advances social and environmental responsibility and improves student learning. Town was the unanimous choice of a prestigious panel of national leaders from the environmental, education, business, and philanthropic sectors.  He was nominated for the Green Prize by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), one of nine national environmental organizations nominating educators and programs for the prize. 

Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of The NEA Foundation, was joined by Philippe Cousteau, Spokesperson for Discovery Education, Correspondent for Planet Green, and CEO of EarthEcho International, in presenting the Green Prize to Town at an assembly held at his school.

“The guiding philosophy of Mike Town's Cool School Challenge is that big changes start with small steps. His program provides a simple process that enables students, working together with their teachers, to proactively reduce greenhouse gas emissions of schools, making a world of difference in their own communities," said Cousteau.  "The natural environment is a leading interest of many students and their teachers, but there are few resources to support them. If we truly want to save what my grandfather called our water planet then we must arm youth with the knowledge, skills and tools to take action to do so. Mike Town’s program is a great step toward this.”

Town, a graduate of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment, and an educator for 25 years, developed the program in 2007. The curriculum, which can be freely downloaded from the Cool School Challenge web site, helps student teams gather data about the carbon footprint of each class and, based on their findings, create an action plan to reduce their impact. The results of this program are evident at his school. Through infrastructure changes and the students' work, Redmond High School has saved over $30,000 per year in electricity and waste costs and reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by over 200,000 pounds.

By partnering with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Puget Sound Energy, Department of Ecology, Resources, and other organizations, Town has shared the materials and curriculum with educators nationwide through workshops and a web site.

In addition to the success of the Cool School Challenge project, Town has the highest enrollment of an AP Environmental Science class in the state, with approximately half of every of the Redmond High School graduating class taking his course. He has also developed an environmental and design course teaching students about green jobs.

"Not only are his students learning how to apply important math and science principals to solve real world problems, how to think analytically and to work collaboratively, they are also becoming environmental activists and community leaders," said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  "With the Cool School Challenge and through many other creative techniques, Mike Town has engaged his students in learning and loving science for 25 years.  We are proud to recognize him and we are eager to promote and share his work so that more educators can re-create this exciting and important program in classrooms nationwide."

Through partnerships with national educational organizations, the NEA Foundation plans to share Town's work with a network of educators and students.

The NEA Foundation released the names of the four national finalists for the Green Prize in Public Education, whose work will also be shared with educators.  They are:

  •  Joyce Bailey, Educator, Head of Global Ecology House, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md.;
  •  Gioya De Souza-Fennelly, Environmental Science Educator, Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, New York, N.Y.;
  •   Pine Jog Elementary School, The O.W.L. Project (Developing Our World Leaders), West Palm Beach, Fla.; and
  •  Susan Vincent, Educator, Piermont Marsh Research Project, The Young Women’s Leadership School, New York, N.Y.

 The NEA Foundation announced that it will award the Green Prize in Public Education again in 2011. Details for the nomination process and the criteria will be released at a later date.  To learn more about the Green Prize, to view a video of Mike Town, and for more information about his Cool Schools Challenge, please visit www.neafoundation.org.

Hamilton County’s work serves as national model for the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC  (March 22, 2010) --  An $8.5 million effort to boost achievement for Hamilton County middle school students is being recognized and celebrated as a national model by the NEA Foundation at an event in Chattanooga, Tenn. today.  The effort began in 2004, when the Foundation awarded a $2.5 million, five-year grant to a partnership of the Hamilton County Education Association, Hamilton County schools, and the Public Education Foundation. The efforts have led to improvement in student test scores and classroom instruction.

The initiative, named Middle Schools for a New Society, initially focused on strategies to improve student achievement in five of the county’s schools, but it was expanded to all of the district’s 21 middle schools with an additional $6 million in support from the Hamilton County-based Lyndhurst Foundation.

Hamilton County was the first to receive funding through the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative and it has served as a model for success as the initiative has expanded to districts nationwide. 

“Five years ago, we selected Hamilton County as the first pilot site for what would become our signature approach to transforming schools,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. 

“Through the work here, we learned that by developing and strengthening partnerships among local education associations, school districts, and community organizations, we can create a powerful force for improving student performance and, at the same time, create a catalyst for systemic reform.”

The hallmark of the initiative has been the collaboration and creation of networks of teachers and principals from within and across the middle schools in the district to share strategies and practices to improve what students are learning in the classroom.

Through these networks, principals, math teachers, literacy teachers, and others meet on a monthly basis to gather new information, share ideas and take the benefits back to their schools.

Educators not only share successful classroom strategies and lessons. They also learn to use data more effectively to target specific needs of students and monitor their progress on a continuous basis. 

Also through the initiative, instructional coaches have been integrated into all middle schools.  These expert teachers provide guidance on best practices and reinforcement to their peers on a daily basis.

Over the life of the initiative, these strategies have helped lead to improvement in student performance for the county’s middle schools. 

From 2005 to 2009, the percentage of middle school students passing the state’s reading exam increased from 84 percent to 90 percent. Also, the percentage of middle school students scoring advanced in mathematics increased from 30 percent to 45 percent during this period.

The successful strategies and lessons learned are now being implemented in five other districts selected to take part in the NEA Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative.“The lessons learned in Hamilton County have already begun to have a national impact as the Foundation expanded this initiative to three new sites in February: Columbus, Ohio; Durham, North Carolina; and Springfield, Massachusetts.  This body of knowledge also contributes to our existing work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Seattle, Washington,” said Sanford.  “We will continue to draw on this important work as we build on what we learned over the past five years and apply it in new settings.” 

Grants support efforts to improve teaching and learning in 33 states

WASHINGTON, DC  (February -17, 2010) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is awarding 50 grants totaling $211,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to improve student achievement or strengthen their own skills. The grants, of $2,000 or $5,000, were awarded to educators in 33 states.

The NEA Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: student achievement grants for initiatives to improve academic achievement and learning & leadership grants for high-quality professional development activities.

Thirty of these grants have been awarded in collaboration and with support from NEA Foundation partners including: the National Association for Music Education (MENC) Teaching Improvisation Grants for teaching musical improvisation; and Nickelodeon Big Green Help Public Education Grants and Staples Foundation Green Grants to Public School Educators for projects that integrate green-related topics and experiences into the classroom. 

“These grants demonstrate the creative and innovative work that public school educators are developing in order to improve student achievement and their own teaching practices,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Our grantees will use these funds to do everything from teaching students about the science of organic farming to establishing an autism resource library for their school and the community.”

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $6 million in grants like these over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 student achievement and learning & leadership grants.  The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year.  Deadlines for the next review periods are June 1, 2010 and Oct. 15, 2010.  Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

 

Association-District partnerships will collaborate to target high needs schools; Multi-year efforts in Columbus, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; and Durham, N.C

 

Washington, DC  (Feb. 9, 2010) – Three partnerships bringing together the local education association, the school district, and community leaders, each have been selected by the NEA Foundation to participate in a five-year, $1.25 million effort to transform sets of the nation’s most challenged schools into local and national models for teaching and learning as part of the Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative. The partnerships selected to receive funding are: Columbus, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; and Durham, N.C.

The NEA Foundation selected the partnerships from among more than 14,000 school districts nationwide to participate in the first major expansion of its Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative. This six-year-old initiative supports union-district partnerships to develop and implement comprehensive, sustainable approaches to closing the achievement gaps and advancing academic achievement. To date, the Foundation has invested $6.2 million in three pilot districts: Hamilton County (Chattanooga), Tenn.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Seattle, Wash.

“Good schools, schools that provide real educational opportunity, have a clear focus on teaching and learning. In good schools, skilled teachers and effective administrators agree on strategies, structures, practices, schedules, and resource sharing plans,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Real opportunities for kids grow when the whole educational system keeps its eye on the prize.”

Each partnership will respond to specific local challenges and achievement gaps, but each proposal was developed using the Foundation’s research-based approach and includes the following elements: collaboration that is grounded in research on best practices in teaching and learning; driven by educators; supported by the community; and focused on improving student performance and creating sustainable systemic reform.

In Columbus, the initiative is a collaborative effort between the Columbus Education Association (CEA), Columbus City Schools (CCS), and United Way of Central Ohio to close the achievement gaps in two high poverty, high minority, and underachieving feeder patterns (elementary, middle and high school).  It will bring targeted support to the participating schools in the areas of professional development and learning, parent and community engagement, and district/association collaboration.

“Our plan includes programmatic interventions that target teaching quality; parent engagement and home visits; and student achievement data that can be used to drive instruction and determine school-level instructional priorities," said Dr. Gene T. Harris, CEO and Superintendent of Columbus City Schools.

In Durham, the partnership is an effort between the Durham Association of Educators (DAE) and Durham Public Schools (DPS), and supported by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC Central University, and local business leaders to close the achievement gap between African-American males and their peers in two feeder patterns (elementary, middle and high school). 

"The selection of Durham Public Schools to receive this award confirms the importance of teachers and school system administrators working together to ensure that every child graduates from high school ready for a career or college,” said Sheri Strickland, President of the North Carolina Educators Association. “The collaboration between Durham Public School and the Durham Association of Educators is a model for what needs to be happening in all school systems across the country."

In Springfield, the partnership between Springfield Education Association (SEA), Springfield Public Schools (SPS), will raise academic achievement for all students while eliminating achievement gaps among Latino/Hispanic, African American, and low income students. In the first year of funding, the partnership will focus on six pilot schools, to be selected competitively based on need and readiness to undertake improvement measures. 

“We came together with a common belief that if we work together to empower the people closest to the actual work – teachers, administrators, and parents in our schools – we can make life better for the children in our charge,” said Tim Collins, President of the Springfield Educators Association.   “The work we did on the NEA Foundation grant reaffirms that when we have open and honest discussions about educating the children in our charge we find there is more we agree on than disagree on.  When, at the school level, we listen to educators’ voices and put our efforts into the things we agree on, we can accomplish great things!”

 

Collaborative Effort between Local Unions and School Districts to Engage in Deep, Systemic Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – The NEA Foundation announced today that it has received a $1 million, two-year grant from the GE Foundation to support the launch of the NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning. The Institute, which is also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will serve as a capacity-building engine for collaboration and reform between education unions and their school districts.

“Our plan capitalizes on a growing movement among education unions seeking to re-position their locals to engage in innovative reform in partnership with their school districts,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “With financial support from the GE Foundation, we believe we can advance best practices that will elevate the profession and accelerate student achievement.”

Some local unions, Sanford added, have already collaborated with districts on human capital practices, including the creation of performance evaluations, peer assistance and review programs, new induction and professional development models, differentiated compensation, and innovations in school design and governance. The Institute will now allow the development of a system to ensure that this work is deepened, shared more broadly, and sustained.

“The GE Foundation supports high-impact initiatives that improve access to, and the equity and quality of, public education. We chose to support the NEA Foundation’s Institute because it mirrors our on-the-ground, collaborative, research-based, results-driven approach,” said Bob Corcoran, President of the GE Foundation. “We believe the Institute offers a unique opportunity to extend this approach through a new infrastructure to grow a national network of teacher leaders and to help them develop and share workable models of reform and best practices to transform public education and lift student achievement.”

The Institute will be designed to engage local union and district leaders in a capacity-building process that will lead to significant, measurable changes in collective bargaining agreements and in teaching and learning, including new approaches to the management of human capital and new ways of measuring student learning. By modeling successful new practices with their school districts, these local union leaders also will become catalysts for cultural and organizational change.

“So many of our union leaders, particularly entities involved in the Teachers Union Reform Network (TURN), have been working in isolation to address the complex issues relating to improving student achievement. Union leaders have been searching for help and support as they tackle the tough work in their local communities of improving teacher appraisal systems, teacher effectiveness, attracting and retaining teachers and removing time-honored policies and practices that impede schools from implementing a change agenda,” said Mary McDonald, Core Service Director, Consortium for Educational Change, a TURN member, and a planning partner.  “The NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning will provide an opportunity for local leaders to address these challenges together – learning from and building upon each other’s efforts to improve our teaching profession in every community.”

“We believe in the power of collaboration to strengthen public education’s human capital in its critical and unparalleled role to improve student achievement,” Sanford concluded. “Teachers represent the most important school-related factor in student achievement, and leadership is second only to teaching in determining how much students learn.  Without addressing the knowledge and skills of teachers and school leaders, school systems and educator associations cannot hope to close achievement gaps.”

 

 

he New England College community will celebrate Founders’ Day 2010 on Tuesday, January 26 at 11:30 a.m. in the Field House. The keynote speaker is Harriet Sanford, a graduate of the NEC Class of 1974 and the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. Ms. Sanford will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Harriet Sanford has dedicated her career to advancing the arts, education, and international cultural understanding, and has served as the senior executive of non-profit organizations, held positions on numerous boards of directors, and is nationally recognized for her charitable fundraising. As President and CEO of the NEA Foundation, Ms. Sanford leads a national effort to support education, educators, and students. In particular, the Foundation seeks opportunities to invest in  education reform that advances student achievement by closing the gaps and preparing every student to learn and thrive in a rapidly changing world. “Harriet Sanford’s career is an extraordinary example of leadership and one person’s ability to bring the arts and education to a national and international agenda,” said Dr. Michele Perkins, President of New England College. “Her efforts to make education accessible to all and to ensure that all students reach their potential resonates with the mission of New England College and will have a lasting effect on the education landscape for generations to come.”

The celebration of Founders’ Day at New England College was instituted to honor the vision and leadership of the founding faculty, administration, and students of the College. Founded in 1946 to serve the educational needs of the country’s military men and women returning from World War II, New England College sought to expand the horizons of a new generation of students. Today, the College offers 31 undergraduate programs and 12 graduate and professional programs. Founders’ Day represents one of the three major academic events of the year that also includes Commencement in May and Convocation in September. The ceremony is designed to acknowledge the many accomplishments of the College, its students, faculty, and staff over the past year.

The New England College community celebrated Founders’ Day on January 26. The keynote speaker was Harriet Sanford, a graduate of the NEC Class of 1974 and the President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. Ms. Sanford received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.


Photo: President Michele Perkins (l), Harriet Sanford (c), Board Chairman Jim Murtha (r)

Collaborative Effort between Local Unions, School Districts, and Communities to Engage in Deep, Systemic Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – The NEA Foundation announced today a $358,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to plan the creation of the Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning.  The Institute will serve as a capacity-building engine for collaboration and reform between education unions and their school districts.

The Institute will be designed to engage a cohort of local union and district leaders in a three-year capacity-building process that will lead to significant, measurable changes in collective bargaining agreements and in teaching and learning, including new approaches to the management of human capital and new ways of measuring student learning. By modeling successful new practices with their school districts, these local union leaders also will become catalysts for cultural and organizational change.

Over the course of the next six months, the NEA Foundation will work to create a collaborative architecture for the Institute; complete an initial scan to identify 30 potential local unions and partner school districts; design the content, process, and program evaluation for the first cohort; and develop a fundraising strategy and launch.

“Our plan capitalizes on a growing movement among education unions that are seeking to re-position their locals to engage in innovative reform in partnership with their school districts,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “It also builds on knowledge gained from existing, research-based body of work, the Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative. With financial support from the Gates Foundation, we believe we can build on this collaborative model and disseminate knowledge gained.”

Some local unions, Sanford added, have already collaborated with districts on human capital practices, including the creation of performance evaluations, peer assistance and review programs, new induction and professional development models, differentiated compensation, and innovations in school design and governance.  The Institute will now allow the development of a system to ensure that this work is deepened, shared more broadly, and sustained.

“So many of our union leaders, particularly entities involved in the Teachers Union Reform Network (TURN), have been working in isolation to address the complex issues relating to improving student achievement. Union leaders have been searching for help and support as they tackle the tough work in their local communities of improving teacher appraisal systems, teacher effectiveness, attracting and retaining teachers and removing time-honored policies and practices that impede schools from implementing a change agenda,” said Mary McDonald, Core Service Director, Consortium for Educational Change, a TURN member, and a planning partner.   “The NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning will provide an opportunity for local leaders to address these challenges together – learning from and building upon each other’s efforts to improve our teaching profession in every community.”

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Teacher Union Reform Network

TURN is a network of NEA and AFT locals. Leaders of the TURN locals assemble three times per year to discuss and explore issues related to education reform and the role of teacher unions in advancing the cause of public education. Visit http://www.turnexchange.net for more information.

Ground-breaking Work in Two Districts, Two States Continues; More to be Funded in 2010

WASHINGTON, DCThe NEA Foundation announced today that it is funding $1.12 million for projects in Milwaukee, Wis., Seattle, Wash., Connecticut, and rural Ohio.  These projects are all part of the Foundation’s signature Closing the  Achievement Gaps Initiative, a set of ground breaking union-district partnerships collaborating to develop and implement comprehensive, sustainable approaches to close the achievement gaps and advance academic achievement.

“We believe these projects show great promise,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Although each project is dealing with different challenges, the approach is the same: collaboration that is grounded in research on best practices, driven by educators, supported by the community, and focused on improving student performance and creating sustainable systemic reform.”

The Foundation awarded $591,000 to a partnership of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and the Milwaukee Public Schools to develop deep professional learning communities, align professional development, and implement university-school partnerships to conduct action research on critical issues at individual schools. The district’s 20 lowest performing schools, which were selected to participate in the Foundation’s initiative, are predominantly African American and low-income, with an exceptionally high enrollment of Special Education students. 

“Despite many challenges, including continuing budget shortfalls, and an uncertain political situation, Milwaukee is making steady process.  This is due largely to the productive collaboration among the association and district leadership working together to build an infrastructure to ensure deep and sustainable reform that will improve educational outcomes for its neediest children,” Sanford said. “And we are seeing positive results. As of September, eight of the schools are no longer designated as Schools Identified for Improvement: an important step."

The Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to the Seattle Education Association and the Seattle Public Schools to support their continued work on the Flight Schools Initiative. This effort developed out of the collective bargaining agreement between the Seattle Education Association and the Seattle Public Schools.  Working through a structure of feeder patterns of elementary, middle and high schools, the purpose is to re-energize ownership and achievement for neighborhood schools. 

“There has been some progress in improving achievement in Seattle, with a narrowing of the gaps in both reading and math,” Sanford said. “The home visits conducted by educators in our funded schools have become a powerful way to better understand the home culture of students in this ethnically-diverse community, so that instruction can be more relevant to their needs.  The visits also strengthen the relationship between home and school.” 

Similar to all of the Foundation’s Gaps sites, the Seattle partnership works to improve alignment of curriculum and assessments and to build professional learning communities across schools.

The Foundation awarded a second year, $250,000 research grant to the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education to support the ongoing evaluation of the CommPACT Schools Initiative.  “Our funding allows the Foundation to leverage its impact in additional Gaps sites and across a state,” Sanford said.  “It also enables the Foundation to collaborate on a common research agenda, which increases our access and contribution to new knowledge related to closing the achievement gaps.”

In its second year, the Connecticut research initiative will focus on: academic achievement, union relationships, organizational behavior, and school culture.

In Appalachian Ohio, the Foundation awarded a $25,000 sustainability grant to support organizational capacity to build deeper partnerships with statewide policy and advocacy as well as potential funding partners to support two of the state’s poorest and lowest rural districts.

“We believe that this is an important opportunity to maintain a knowledge portal into rural teaching and learning,” Sanford said.  “In addition, this work is getting results. Over the past three years, Foundation funded districts have developed professional learning communities to promote student learning and to set clear academic goals based on student achievement data. At least 75 percent of students are now meeting Ohio standards in reading and math and they have established a system of data collection and analysis to help them monitor their progress.”

Based on the success of this work, the NEA Foundation will fund three new sites in 2010.

Grants support efforts to improve teaching and learning in 29 states

WASHINGTON, DC  (October 5, 2009) - The NEA Foundation announced today that it is awarding 51 grants totaling $234,000 to support public school educators’ efforts to improve student achievement or strengthen their own skills.

The grants, of $2,000 or $5,000, were awarded to educators in 29 states:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Foundation awards two primary categories of grants to public education professionals: Student Achievement Grants for initiatives to improve the academic achievement, and Learning & Leadership Grants for high-quality professional development activities.

“The grant proposals we receive and fund demonstrate the creative and innovative work that public school educators are doing to engage their students and improve their own teaching practices,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Our grantees will use these funds to do everything from starting recycling projects at their schools to creating learning communities of biology teachers to share best practices for hands-on labs.”

The NEA Foundation has awarded more than $6 million in grants like these over the past decade to educators in every state in the country. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants.  The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year.  Deadlines for the next review periods are Feb. 1, 2010 and June 1, 2010.

Descriptions of current and past recipients, online application forms, and an instructional video can be found at neafoundation.org.

WASHINGTON, DC  -- The NEA Foundation announces today the five national finalists for The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence.  These five educators will be recognized as the top professionals in their field and the national winner will be announced at the Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education awards gala on Feb. 12, 2010 in Washington, DC.

The national winner will receive The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.  The four other finalists will each be awarded The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000.

The five finalists are:

Sarah Baird, a math coach at Kyrene del Milenio and Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary Schools in Phoenix, Ariz.

Katherine Bishop, a special education teacher at Lake Park Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, a second grade teacher at Dilworth Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tim McCollum, an eighth grade science teacher at Charleston Middle School in Charleston, Ill. 

Bob Williams, a high school math teacher at Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska.

The finalists were selected from 38 public school educators nominated by their peers for the Awards for Teaching Excellence.  The nominations were submitted by the educators’ National Education Association state affiliates.

“These educators have been selected by their peers because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their exemplary instruction, advocacy for public education, a commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Honoring these educators is our way to thank them for their excellent work.”

In addition to the recognition, the five finalists are receiving digital arts training for their schools from the Pearson Foundation.  The finalists will then be honored at the gala with video profiles created by teams of students and teachers from their schools.  The video profiles of last year’s finalists can be viewed at neafoundation.org. 

Finalists’ schools also will receive learning technology products from the SMARTer Kids Foundation.

All state nominees will attend and be recognized at the gala.  The NEA Foundation also awards $750 to each of the state nominees’ schools and covers their travel to the gala.  Names and photos of the state nominees and national finalists can be viewed at neafoundation.org.

The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence are given annually and recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.  The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, and the Pearson Foundation.

 

$200,000 in Grants Will Be Given to Elementary and Middle Schools  To Support Environmental Projects

WASHINGTON, DC–(September 16, 2009)–The NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon’s The Big Green Help campaign have partnered to award $200,000 in grants to public educators across the country.  Forty The Big Green Help Grants in Public Education, ranging up to $5,000 each, will be awarded to support the development and implementation of programs teaching “green” concepts to public elementary and middle school students. The partnership is part of Nickelodeon’s The Big Green Help initiative, which connects kids to energy-saving and earth-friendly activities in their everyday lives, and the NEA Foundation’s grants program that helps prepare the next generation “green” workforce.

“The partnership with Nickelodeon allows us to substantially grow our grants program to 200 this year, which is increasingly important during an economic downturn when educators are so hard pressed to find resources needed to advance student achievement,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.  “Over the past year, the number of grant applications we’ve received from educators has doubled. We have seen a steady increase in “green” grants that are being used to integrate environmental issues across all school curriculums.”

“Through the partnership with NEA Foundation, we’re fashioning a new generation of environmentalists for who green will become not only a cause, but a way of life,” said Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Public Affairs.  “With The Big Green Help Grants program, we’re building on the foundation established by our previous pro-social initiatives which empower kids and organizations to be leaders on important issues.” 

Educators interested in applying for The Big Green Help Grants in Public Education can log onto the NEA Foundation grants page for online application forms.  Deadlines for grant submissions are Oct. 15, 2009, Feb. 1 and June 1, 2010.  Nickelodeon’s The Big Green Help partnership with the NEA Foundation’s Student Achievement Grants program, which supports school-based practices and instruction, will focus on supporting educators’ efforts to develop creative learning opportunities for students around environmental subjects.

Nickelodeon launched its own The Big Green Help Grants program last spring to support schools and local organizations with sustainability projects and offer kids the opportunity to be leaders in their communities on environmental action.  The Big Green Help Grants applications are available online (http://www.bghevent.com/grant) through Dec. 31, 2009 and promotions will air on Nick this fall.  Through its various grants programs, the NEA Foundation supports a variety of efforts by teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to improve student learning in the nation's public schools, colleges, and universities.

Nickelodeon’s 2009 The Big Green Help campaign made the environment a top-of-mind issue with kids by: honoring Leonardo DiCaprio with the first-ever Big Green Help Award at its Kids’ Choice Awards; celebrating Earth Day with the first-ever “Power Down”–an on-air call to action for kids to engage in environmental activity; and airing a series of interstitials that showcase kids who are taking action to improve the environment.  To date, more than 2 million kids have already pledged to participate in The Big Green Help.  For more information visit http://www.thebiggreenhelppress.com .

Nickelodeon, now in its 30th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 99 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 15 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com.  Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B). 

 

HARTFORD, CT (Sept. 9, 2008) – Six organizations have agreed to collaborate on a school reform effort unlike any other in the country that will involve eight of Connecticut’s most challenged schools. This unique collaboration will be funded, in part, by a $250,000 award from The NEA Foundation and a $480,000 appropriation from the Connecticut General Assembly.


At a news conference held today at the State Capitol, Richard Schwab, dean of UConn’s Neag School of Education and head of the Connecticut Alliance for CommPACT Schools, announced that the schools selected are the M.D. Fox in Hartford, Davis Street Comer School and Hill Central School in New Haven, Washington School and West Side Middle School in Waterbury, Barnum School and Longfellow School in Bridgeport, and the Shoreline Academy in New London.


“Never before, in the state or nation, have the primary stakeholders involved in making schools work, set aside their differences to work in unison to tackle the discrepancies between our state’s best and most challenged schools. The CommPACT Schools will become the kind of learning environment we want for all children,” Schwab said.


The Alliance, which has spent the past 18 months developing the CommPACT Schools model, is comprised of the Connecticut Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Connecticut Association of Urban Superintendents, the Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, in addition to UConn’s Neag School.


“The University is excited to be a part of the CommPACT initiative because rather than just talking about urban school reform, we can affect real change in Connecticut,” said Michael J. Hogan, UConn president. “We are deeply appreciative of the lawmakers’ efforts and support, and we are most grateful to The NEA Foundation for its award. With this support, we are assured to become a new national model for how higher education institutions can work proactively to enhance student achievement.”


The NEA Foundation will fund a research effort led by the Neag School’s Institute for Urban School Improvement. The Neag team is providing extensive support within and across the CommPACT network through research, assessments, and professional development for teachers. NEA Foundation funds will be used to design and implement a five-year evaluation of the CommPACT initiative with the ultimate goal of applying both state and nationwide what is learned about closing the achievement gaps in districts serving high percentages of low-income and minority students.


“The CommPACT Schools initiative will provide further evidence of the NEA Foundation’s central working hypothesis that significant change can occur through a strong collaborative relationship among the teachers’ association, the school district, and community partners,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “By funding the evaluation of this work, we hope to assure that the lessons learned through practice and research will be shared with schools throughout Connecticut. We are looking forward to using this opportunity to learn how local efforts can inform state policy.”


The name CommPACT symbolizes the commitment required by the partners within each school including community members, parents, administrators, children, and teachers. This collective effort marks a radical shift from the top-down operations common to most school systems. Though still accountable to its local district, CommPACT Schools have autonomy to make changes.“This initiative is a union idea that has blossomed through legislative and academic leadership,” said CEA President Phil Apruzzese. “It’s exciting to be breaking new ground in public education, and a great many teachers this year are energized by this challenge. In those teachers’ professional careers, it’s really an extraordinary time that will yield significant benefits for children.”


Collaborative, Research-based Effort Empowers Educators, Involves Community


The Neag School’s Urban Institute is currently working with each CommPACT School to identify strengths and challenges, and is providing each school with program options that have been field-tested and proven effective in addressing each school’s specific needs. The decisions made at the school level will mean that no two CommPACT Schools will be exactly alike. The Neag team will also monitor and assess each school’s progress, including student achievement and school performance, and that information will be used to guide each school’s decisions.


“This effort sends the message that we are all willing, and in fact, eager to work together to take public education to the next level,” said Sharon Palmer, President of AFT-Connecticut. “Our teachers are very excited about the prospect of having a real voice in the decision making that affects their students, and look forward to working with the Neag School’s urban institute to determine which curriculum and programs best suit their students’ needs.”


“What’s at stake here is the future of our children,” said Roch Girard, president of the Connecticut Federation of School Administrators. “As professionals, we can and we want to work together to effect the kind of change needed to improve our urban schools, and the CommPACT Schools model is a great opportunity for us to prove we can do this.”


To have been selected as a CommPACT School, 90 percent approval by the teachers, principal, district administrators, and parents was required. Each school has since selected a steering committee representative of its school community and involved in developing the vision for its school.


Evidence of school and student improvement are expected in two to three years.

“In an increasing competitive global economy, our ability to transform and strengthen public education is a critical national priority,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA. “Closing the gaps in student achievement is a pressing issue facing today’s educators and by supporting their work and providing them with the tools and the information they need to improve teaching and learning in classrooms in Connecticut and nationwide, we are playing a pivotal role in improving our society one child at a time. We’re proud to be involved in this effort.”


Next spring, another six or more Connecticut Schools will be selected to become the second cohort of CommPACT Schools which will open their doors next fall.


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Finalists Receive $10,000 from the Horace Mann Companies; National Recognition

WASHINGTON (October 16, 2008) — Five public school educators will receive $10,000 from the Horace Mann Companies and national recognition at a Washington, DC awards gala as the 2009 national finalists for the NEA Foundation’s Award for Teaching Excellence, according to the NEA Foundation, a public charity created in 1969 to advance student achievement in America’s public schools.


“These individuals have been selected by their colleagues because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their effective instruction, advocacy for public education, commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Bringing them to Washington, DC and honoring them at our gala is our thank you for their excellent work.”


Selected were:

  • Joseph Fatheree, a multi-media and web design teacher at Effingham High School in Effingham, IL;
  • Michael Flynn, a teacher at William E. Norris Elementary School in Southampton, MA;
  • Richard T. Ognibene, Jr., a 11-12 grade chemistry and physics teacher at Fairport High School in Fairport, NY;
  • Stephanie Rossi, a 10-12 grade teacher at Wheat Ridge Senior High School in Wheat Ridge, CO; and
  • Marlene Srock, a first grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary School inMinot, ND.


Selected by educators from their home states, these public school educators will be honored at the organization’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 6, 2009.

In all, 36 public school educators were nominated by their states to receive the Award for Teaching Excellence and will be honored at the organization’s annual Washington, DC gala, according to the NEA Foundation. Each of the 36 recipients’ schools will receive a $750 award in his or her honor. Photos and names of the state nominees and national finalists are posted and can be downloaded at {{$site.contextPath}}gala.htm.


“These extraordinary teachers challenge students and encourage them to reach their full potential,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “They are representative of the vast number of school employees who go to school each morning dedicated to creating great public schools for every student.”


The 2009 recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence recipient will remain a closely guarded secret until he or she is announced at the NEA Foundation’s gala in February. At that time, he or she will receive $25,000 award.


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New Process Saves Time, Paper and Is Easier to Complete

Washington, DC (October 20, 2008) – In a move it says will make applying for grants easier, more convenient, and less prone to user error, the NEA Foundation today announced that it is launching a web-based application process for its popular $2,000 and $5,000 grants to support public school educators’ ideas to improve teaching and learning.

“In an increasingly technologically savvy world, we want to encourage educators to use all the resources they have at their fingertips, many of which can be found online,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our new process is green, easier and more convenient to complete, and requires less time: all attributes that we know busy educators will appreciate.”

Applicants can link directly to the application from the NEA Foundation’s web site at www.neafoundation.org. After responding to three questions that determine eligibility, applicants complete the process in five simple steps. They are prompted when they’ve left out any required information, and they are allowed to save their application if they need more time. The process also allows repeat applicants the opportunity to save personal and school information, cutting down on time spent on the administrative portion of the application and allowing more time for the narrative section.

Sanford added that the Foundation will accept both paper and online applications for its Student Achievement Grants and its Learning and Leadership Grants through February 1, 2009, when it will convert to the web-based system.

“We have designated a staff person to answer any questions applicants may have as we make this transition,” she said. “The bottom line is that we want educators to apply for these grants and to fully understand and to feel comfortable with the new process. By phasing it in slowly over time, we hope to accomplish this.”

Over the past decade, the NEA Foundation has awarded more than $4.1 million in grants to public school educators. “Our goal is to fund and share successful strategies to improve public education and to enrich our students’ learning experience by supporting their teachers’ best ideas,” Sanford said. “Through these grants, we are improving the quality of teaching and learning for everyone.”

Pennies for Peace Toolkit Inspired by Three Cups of Tea School-Building Movement

WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2009) -- Through Greg Mortenson’s best-selling Three Cups of Tea and the author’s Pennies for Peace organization, thousands of educators are inspiring young people nationwide to raise money to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The NEA Foundation announced today that educators hoping to join this movement can download a free K-12 service-learning toolkit designed to help them create effective penny-raising campaigns as part of their schools’ curriculum.

The Pennies for Peace Toolkit was collaboratively produced by Pennies for Peace and the Pearson Foundation with support from the NEA Foundation and can be found at www.penniesforpeace.org.

It provides a standards-aligned, service learning curriculum for all grade levels, including classroom activities, fact sheets, maps provided by National Geographic, and videos about life and culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The toolkit supplies campaign tools that teachers and students can use to engage their local communities, including letter templates to civic leaders, press release templates, stickers, and flyers.

“The NEA Foundation funded the creation of the content for the toolkit because we saw it as an important opportunity to expand student service learning as a viable way of addressing 21st century issues,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation.

Three Cups of Tea tells the story of Mortenson’s 1993 attempt to climb the second highest mountain in the world, K2, in honor of his younger sister, who had recently died. When a member of the group got sick, they turned around, and he got lost in the mountains of Pakistan. He wandered into a poor village, where the chief and his people cared for him. Inspired by their kindness, Mortenson promised to return and build a school.

Since then, Mortenson founded an organization that has used student contributions to establish nearly 100 schools in rural and often volatile areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to more than 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

“Education coupled with compassion can move mountains,” said Mortenson. “We want our students to understand the issues facing the world, to know that they have the capacity to affect change, and we want them to guide their leaders to share one penny per dollar globally, because the greatest legacy we can give our students is a legacy of peace.”

“The Pennies for Peace Toolkit recognizes that teachers and young people have a passion for taking action on the issues that matter to them most,” said Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation. “Greg Mortenson’s story in Three Cups of Tea has touched millions and the Pearson Foundation is happy to help build the movement behind his work in schools and communities everywhere.”

The toolkit is an extension of the new Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World… One Child at a Time, a young readers edition of this remarkable story published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Corene Griffin Trust Gives $181K to Education

Washington, DC -- The NEA Foundation’s Board Chair, Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Partner of The Livingston Group, announced the receipt of a bequest to the Foundation from the estate of Corene Griffin, of Malibu, CA. The gift will total over $181,000 and will support technology in education.

Ms. Griffin’s bequest stated that her gift be used to help advance technology integration into classroom teaching, which was a particular area of interest of her daughter Donna Rhodes who served as the NEA Foundation’s executive director from 1986 -1993.To honor the bequest, the Foundation will provide grants to public school educators for this purpose through its competitive small grants program.

“Ms. Griffin’s gift is a testament to the power of estate planning in honoring loved ones in perpetuity in a way which supports the education of our next generation,” said Ms. Fitz-Pegado.

“These grants will build on the Foundation’s work to help educators provide students with 21st century skills,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “They will help enable students to compete in our global economy and prepare them for college, work, and life.”

Gives Verizon First Philanthropy in Public Education Award

Washington, DC (January 26, 2009) – The NEA Foundation announced today that it will present its inaugural Philanthropy in Public Education Award to Verizon Communications in recognition of the company’s support of public education and literacy.

“The purpose of this award is to recognize those businesses and philanthropic entities that have made a significant contribution in public education by advancing student achievement,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We selected Verizon because of its long history of supporting quality, technology-based educational resources and literacy programs that are helping educators improve student achievement and that support lifelong education.”

With an annual giving budget of $76 million, Verizon is one of the nation’s top corporate foundations. Its signature philanthropic initiative, Thinkfinity.org, is a comprehensive website that provides thousands of free, high-quality, standards-based, lesson plans and interactive K-12 student materials. The website also provides educators with links to a wealth of information on discipline-specific websites, as well as professional development and assessment tools.

“The power of the private sector to strengthen public education is critical and clearly recognized by Verizon. When organizations decide to use their resources to support educators, students win,” said Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By supporting programs that improve teaching and learning, corporations make a critical contribution to young Americans realizing their dreams and preparing for an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing global economy. This investment will derive benefit to us all in the end, as it leads to a stronger work force.”

The NEA Foundation will present its first Philanthropy in Public Education Award to Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg at its annual Salute to Excellence to Education Awards Gala, which recognizes the nation’s top educators and is held in Washington, DC on February 6.

NEA Foundation Honors Verizon and Sesame Workshop at Feb. 6 Awards Gala

WASHINGTON,D.C. (February 7, 2009) —lllinois’ Effingham High School teacher Joseph Fatheree won top honors at the NEA Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Friday night, taking home the coveted $25,000 Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and sharing the stage with Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath in front of 900 leaders from public education, business, philanthropy and the government. The gala, which is held in Washington, DC, is a national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools.

Fatheree competed against nominees from 35 other states and was honored tonight with a video made by a team of students and teachers from his school. Click here to view the video honoring his work. With more than 20 years of teaching experience, he has won numerous awards and honors, is active in many professional and community activities, and is known by his peers for his professionalism, his creativity, his love of teaching and learning, his willingness to serve as an advocate for his profession, and his ability to lead and to share.

“Joe has devoted his career to addressing student diversity. He has linked his rural students with inner city students in Los Angeles to produce a film for the United Nations. His students have produced films that have been aired nationally, developed an animated storybook used to teach English to African children, and created an interactive website for the Illinois State Board of Education,” said Kenneth B.Swanson, President of the Illinois Education Association. “It is because of Joe’s deep advocacy for students, his attention to creating unique ways to truly understand

diversity,his continual outreach to the community, and his public support of educators that the Illinois Education Association proudly nominates Joseph Fatheree for the prestigious NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. To us, Joe has truly shown teaching excellence.”

Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the NEA Foundation recognized the nation’s top public educators, presenting more than 50 awards.

“These individuals have been selected by their colleagues because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their effective instruction,advocacy for public education, commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,”said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.“Bringing them to Washington, DC and honoring them at our gala is a thank you for their excellent work.”

All five finalists for the Awards for Teaching Excellence, including Fatheree, received $10,000 from the Horace Mann Companies.

The four other finalists were:

  • Michael Flynn, of William E. Norris Elementary School in Southampton, MA;
  • Richard T. Ognibene, Jr., of Fairport High School in Fairport, NY;
  • Stephanie Rossi, of Wheat Ridge Senior High School in Wheat Ridge, CO; and
  • Marlene Srock, of Bel Air Elementary School in Minot, ND.

The NEA Foundation also presented its inaugural Award for Philanthropy in Public Education to Verizon Communications and its 2009 Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to Sesame Workshop.

The Foundation selected Verizon for its history of supporting quality educational resources and its variety of literacy programs. With an annual giving budget of $76 million dollars, Verizon’s foundation is one of the top 20 corporate foundations. This new award is presented to corporations and other entities in recognition of their philanthropic support of public education, schools, and educators, according to Sanford.

“The power of the private sector to strengthen public education is critical and clearly recognized by Verizon. When organizations decide to use their resources to support educators, students win,” said Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By supporting programs that improve teaching and learning, corporations make a critical contribution to young Americans. This investment will derive benefit to us all in the end, as it leads to a stronger work force.”

“We selected Sesame Workshop for our Outstanding Service award because of its work to make a lasting and monumental impact in early childhood education through its celebrated and truly visionary Sesame Workshop,” said Sanford. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street,today reaches 120 million children worldwide and is known as the world’s single largest informal educator of children.

Annual Gala Celebrates and Recognizes Outstanding Achievements in Public Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 3, 2009) — At its annual Salute to Excellence in Education awards gala on February 6, the NEA Foundation today announced that it will present its 2009 Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to Sesame Workshop and its inaugural Award for Philanthropy in Public Education to Verizon. A national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools, the Washington, DC event attracts almost 900 leaders from public education, business, philanthropy and the government.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street, today reaches 120 million children worldwide and is known as the world’s single largest informal educator of children. Both Sesame Street and the NEA Foundation share a commitment to public education.

“We selected Sesame Workshop because of its work to make a lasting and monumental impact in early childhood education through its celebrated and truly visionary Sesame Workshop,” said Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation President & CEO.

“Since its inception, Sesame Street has encouraged a love of learning that has helped prepare children to enter school,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, Executive Producer, Sesame Street. “We are honored to accept this award from an organization that shares our commitment to givingall children the opportunity to reach their highest potential.”

The Foundation’s inaugural Award for Philanthropy in Public Education,which is being given to Verizon, is presented to corporations and other entities in recognition of their philanthropic support of public education, schools, and educators. With a long history of supporting quality educational resources and a variety of literacy programs, and an annual giving budget of $76 million dollars,Verizon’s foundation is one of the top 20 corporate foundations.

“The power of the private sector to strengthen public education is critical and clearly recognized by Verizon. When organizations decide to use their resources to support educators, students win,” said LauriJ. Fitz-Pegado, Chair of the NEA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By supporting programs that improve teaching and learning, corporations make a critical contribution to young Americans. This investment will derive benefit to us all in the end, as it leads to a stronger work force.”

Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the NEA Foundation will also recognize the nation’s top public educators, presenting more than 50 awards, most notably, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence.

“These individuals have been selected by their colleagues because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their effective instruction, advocacy for public education, commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,”said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Bringing them to Washington, DC and honoring them at our gala is our thank you for their excellent work.”

The five finalists for the Awards for Teaching Excellence will receive $10,000 from the Horace Mann Companies and be honored with videos, which were, for the first time this year, created by their students with support from the Pearson Foundation. Links to these videos are available upon request. Photos and names of the state nominees and national finalists are posted and can be downloaded at {{$site.contextPath}}gala.htm.

Selected were:

  • Joseph Fatheree, a multi-media and web design teacher at Effingham High School in Effingham, IL;
  • Michael Flynn, a teacher at William E. Norris Elementary School in Southampton, MA;
  • Richard T. Ognibene, Jr., a chemistry and physics teacher at Fairport High School in Fairport, NY;
  • Stephanie Rossi, teacher at Wheat Ridge Senior High School in Wheat Ridge, CO; and
  • Marlene Srock, a first grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary School in Minot, ND.

Themeda “Symphony of Success,” the gala pays tribute to music education, with performances from national award-winning student musicians and vocalists. The Foundation, partnering with MENC: The National Association for Music Education, will announce 10 new “Teaching Improvisation Grants,”earmarked to support public educators’ work to teach improvisation to middle- and high-school music students. The grants will be awarded over the 2009-2010 school year.

NEA Foundation and MENC: The National Association for Music Education Announce New Grants; Celebrate Music In Our Schools Month®

WASHINGTON, DC (March 11, 2009) -- The NEA Foundation, in partnership with MENC: The National Association for Music Education, today announced 10 new “Teaching Improvisation Grants,” earmarked to support public educators’ work to teach improvisation to middle- and high-school music students. Part of the NEA Foundation’s popular Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants program, the $2,000 and $5,000 grants will be awarded over the 2009-2010 school year.

“Significant empirical research and anecdotal evidence exist about the potential benefits of music education for middle and high school students,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “These grants target improvisation as an area of great promise in the development of creative thinking so important to students in the 21st century.”

Improvisation is an integral part of the art and practice of many styles and genres of music, she added. It is a cornerstone of the original American art of jazz and is related to historical and contemporary music forms that are both rigorous in their approach and popular in their outlook.

“Music is fun and inspires students to learn. Through the study of music, students learn about their own and others’ cultural heritage, and they acquire valuable cognitive and creative skills,” said MENC Executive Director John J. Mahlmann. “National surveys have shown that schools with music programs have significantly higher graduation rates and attendance rates than those without music programs. Despite these facts, music education has been under-funded in recent years, and students from lower income families have been particularly impacted. We hope these grants will offer some support where it is so critically needed.”

There are two categories of Teaching Improvisation Grants available to public educators.

Student Achievement Grants provide $5,000 to proposals designed to improve the academic achievement of students by engaging them in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen knowledge of subject matter and that are centered on music improvisation through the development and implementation of new ideas, techniques, and approaches. Lesson plans developed by the grantees will be posted on the “My Music Class” facility of the MENC web site, where they will be available to all MENC members as classroom resources.

Learning & Leadership Grants provide $2,000 to individual and $5,000 to teams of teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to engage in high-quality professional development and to lead their colleagues in professional growth in the techniques and skills of teaching improvisation. Recipients will be asked to report fully on the ways that they developed new techniques and skills. These reports will be summarized and shared nationwide with music education professionals.

For more information about these grants, visit www.neafoundation.org/grants or contact jgraytock@nea.org.

About MENC: The National Association for Music Education MENC

The National Association for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. More than 142,000 members and supporters include educators representing all levels of teaching from preschool to graduate school. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located at the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.

New Online Grant Application Saves Time, Paper and Is Easier to Complete

WASHINGTON, DC (March 13, 2009) – The NEA Foundation has posted a video that provides a guided tour and detailed instruction of its new online grants application process for its popular $2,000 and $5,000 Learning & Leadership Grants and its Student Achievement Grants. Applications are accepted, reviewed, and granted three times a year. Deadlines are June 1, October 15, and February 1.

The new system makes applying for grants easier, more convenient, and is less prone to user error.

“In an increasingly technologically savvy world, we want to encourage educators to use all the resources they have at their fingertips, many of which can be found online,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our new process is greener, easier and more convenient to complete, and requires less time: all attributes that we know busy educators will appreciate. And, for those who have questions or want to be walked through the process, our new video provides them with all the details they need.”

Applicants can view the video or link directly to the application from the NEA Foundation’s web site at www.neafoundation.org/grants.

After responding to three questions that determine eligibility, applicants complete the process in five simple steps. They are prompted when they’ve left out any required information, and they are allowed to save their application if they need more time. The process also allows repeat applicants the opportunity to save personal and school information, cutting down on time spent on the administrative portion of the application and allowing more time for the narrative section.

“We have designated a staff person to answer any questions applicants may have as we make this transition,” she said. “The bottom line is that we want educators to apply for these grants and to fully understand and to feel comfortable with the new process. By providing an instructional video and by offering personal assistance as needed, we hope to accomplish this.”

Over the past decade, the NEA Foundation has awarded more than $5.9 million in grants to public school educators. “Our goal is to fund and share successful strategies to improve public education and to enrich our students’ learning experience by supporting their teachers’ best ideas,” Sanford said. “Through these grants, we are improving the quality of teaching and learning for everyone.”

Pennies for Peace Toolkit Inspired by Three Cups of Tea School-Building Movement

WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2009) -- Through Greg Mortenson’s best-selling Three Cups of Tea and the author’s Pennies for Peace organization, thousands of educators are inspiring young people nationwide to raise money to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The NEA Foundation announced today that educators hoping to join this movement can download a free K-12 service-learning toolkit designed to help them create effective penny-raising campaigns as part of their schools’ curriculum.

The Pennies for Peace Toolkit was collaboratively produced by Pennies for Peace and the Pearson Foundation with support from the NEA Foundation and can be found at www.penniesforpeace.org.

It provides a standards-aligned, service learning curriculum for all grade levels, including classroom activities, fact sheets, maps provided by National Geographic, and videos about life and culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The toolkit supplies campaign tools that teachers and students can use to engage their local communities, including letter templates to civic leaders, press release templates, stickers, and flyers.

“The NEA Foundation funded the creation of the content for the toolkit because we saw it as an important opportunity to expand student service learning as a viable way of addressing 21st century issues,” said Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation.

Three Cups of Tea tells the story of Mortenson’s 1993 attempt to climb the second highest mountain in the world, K2, in honor of his younger sister, who had recently died. When a member of the group got sick, they turned around, and he got lost in the mountains of Pakistan. He wandered into a poor village, where the chief and his people cared for him. Inspired by their kindness, Mortenson promised to return and build a school.

Since then, Mortenson founded an organization that has used student contributions to establish nearly 100 schools in rural and often volatile areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to more than 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

“Education coupled with compassion can move mountains,” said Mortenson. “We want our students to understand the issues facing the world, to know that they have the capacity to affect change, and we want them to guide their leaders to share one penny per dollar globally, because the greatest legacy we can give our students is a legacy of peace.”

“The Pennies for Peace Toolkit recognizes that teachers and young people have a passion for taking action on the issues that matter to them most,” said Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation. “Greg Mortenson’s story in Three Cups of Tea has touched millions and the Pearson Foundation is happy to help build the movement behind his work in schools and communities everywhere.”

The toolkit is an extension of the new Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World… One Child at a Time, a young readers edition of this remarkable story published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

$50,000 Planning Grants to be Used to Create a Road Map for Potential Multi-Year Funded Efforts to Close the Achievement Gaps in Public Education

WASHINGTON, DC (May 5, 2009) – The NEA Foundation announced today that it will build upon the success of its collaborative Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative by awarding five urban public education partnerships $50,000 planning grants. These partnerships will develop proposals to demonstrate how they will work together to improve achievement rates for low income and minority students, while raising performance for all students.

The planning grant sites are: Kansas City, Kan; Springfield, Mass.; Durham, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Columbus, Ohio. The partnerships comprise leaders from the local teachers’ association, the school district, and the community.

“Preliminary results from our three original pilot sites show powerful evidence of the potential of building and maintaining a collaborative relationship among these groups that is focused on student achievement,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our plan is to advance this work by funding a second set of sites, and in doing so, continue to grow our knowledge base so that we can share these strategies with the public education and philanthropic sectors in the years ahead.”

Specifically, the partnerships’ proposals will focus on ways they will work together to strengthen four areas of intervention in public education:

- Local association district capacity and collaboration to generate a shared understanding of the problem, frequent and ongoing communication, and an agreed-upon set of strategies to address the challenges;

- System alignment and coherence designed to increase capacity at the district level to ensure school-level success;

- Family and community partnerships designed to generate support for improvement efforts and to bring necessary resources for achieving the vision and outcomes; and

- Quality teaching designed to improve teaching and learning as a means of closing the achievement gaps by improving the professional lives of teachers.

“We have found that these areas of intervention together bolster the likelihood that local impact can be sustained as they address and change the conditions and structures that we believe most directly drive student achievement and performance,” said Sanford. Each of the sites’ proposals will assess their readiness, build capacity, and develop a shared vision and set of aligned, systemic strategies that close the achievement gaps. The best will be awarded multi-year implementation grants.

“We believe that by working collaboratively within the local public education system, we can best identify and leverage any assets, address existing weaknesses, and share information inside and outside the system, a solution that is far more practical, effective, and doable than many others we’ve seen,” she said.

Since its inception in 2004, the NEA Foundation has spent about $6.2 million on its signature Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative, working with districts in Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tenn., Seattle, Wash., and Milwaukee, Wis.

“With less than a year to go at our first site in Chattanooga, we are seeing gains across the board. Teachers now receive data-driven, professional development to address real instructional challenges. Parents and the community are more engaged. And test scores, especially for low income and minority students, are rising,” said Sanford. “The achievement gap has dropped 13 percent in reading and 10.5 percent in math from 2004 to 2008. Equally important, our initial support has catalyzed the community to extend this work from the five original to all 21 middle schools in Hamilton County, so that our work is taking on a life of its own.”

Sanford added that schools in Milwaukee and Seattle were also reporting early successes. An independent, third party evaluator has been tasked with reviewing the data, and details about progress being made through this work will be released later in the year.

“In addition to the improvements made at each of our pilot sites, we have gained important insights about how educators and communities can best approach challenges,” Sanford said. “Although the problems they faced were different at each site, as were the solutions and the results, our collaborative, research-based, teacher-driven approach was the same. It works, and we’re eager to extend it into new sites.”

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

Washington, D.C. (July, 3 2009) - Thousands of educators visited the NEA Foundation’s booth at the NEA’s 2009 Expo in San Diego to learn more about the Foundation’s grants, for a chance to win an iPod Touch, and to pick up a coveted NEA Foundation “Need a Grant?” bag.

Foundation staff answered hundreds of questions about its Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants throughout the two and a half days that the Expo was held.

On July 2, the NEA Foundation hosted a presentation and book signing for Nobel Peace Prize nominee and bestselling author of “Three Cups of Tea,” Greg Mortenson.  The author enthusiastically thanked about 400 educators who gathered to hear him speak.  He encouraged them to continue their work to educate young Americans and to cultivate student service learning opportunities to promote world peace by building understanding and appreciation between different cultures.

The NEA Foundation has supported the work of Mortenson’s organization, Pennies for Peace, to develop an online service learning toolkit designed for K-12 educators to create effective penny-raising campaigns to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of their school’s curriculum.

The toolkit provides a standards-aligned service learning curriculum for all grade levels, including classroom activities, fact sheets, maps provided by National Geographic, and videos about life and culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan.   The materials can be downloaded for free from www.penniesforpeace.org.

These school-based campaigns are gathering momentum and making a difference.  In 2006, there were less than 100 US schools participating. Today there are over 4,000.  As of 2009, Pennies for Peace has established over 90 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 34,000 children, including 24,000 girls where few education opportunities existed before.

Funding Earmarked for Environmental Education Projects to Foster Student Achievement

WASHINGTON, DC (August 17, 2009) -- Staples Foundation for Learning (SFFL), a private foundation created by Staples, Inc., today announced it is awarding a $50,000 grant to the NEA Foundation. Funding from SFFL will support Green Grants, a program that provides support for educators to develop and implement ideas, techniques and approaches that integrate environmental education into the classroom to increase student engagement and improve academic achievement.

“The partnership with Staples Foundation for Learning allows us to grow our grant programs for educators, which is especially important during an economic downturn when it is harder to find resources,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Over the past year, we’ve seen the amount of grant applications double and an increase in integrating environmental issues across school curriculum. With support from Staples, we are able to respond to increasing interest for programs that encourage environmental stewardship and, for the first time, designate grants specifically for ‘green’ projects.”

The SFFL Green Grants to Public School Educators builds on the success of the NEA Foundation’s Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grant models that have provided nearly $6 million in grants to public school educators throughout the past 10 years.

“Green Grants supports environmental education in the classroom, providing teachers and students with a greater understanding of environmental issues that impact both the world and their community,” Joy Errico, director of community relations for Staples, Inc. “Staples is committed to supporting this program that enhances classroom curriculum and engages students in important sustainability issues.”

Public school educators are eligible to apply for individual grants worth up to $5,000 for the development and implementation of ideas, techniques and approaches for teaching “green” concepts. The NEA Foundation will award three round of green grants in 2010, with deadlines for applications falling on Oct. 15, Feb. 1 and June 1. Interested educators can view application guidelines and a sample application, watch an instructional video guiding them through the application process, find descriptions of recently funded grantees, and apply online at www.neafoundation.org.

About Staples Foundation for Learning

The mission of Staples Foundation for Learning, Inc. is to teach, train and inspire. Founded in 2002, the foundation has contributed nearly $15 million to national and local charities that provide educational opportunities and job skills for all people, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Staples Foundation for Learning has also developed lasting relationships with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Earth Force, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. In addition, Staples Foundation for Learning supports Ashoka, an organization that develops and supports social entrepreneurs around the world, in eight countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United States. For more information about the foundation or how to apply for a grant, please visit www.staplesfoundation.org.

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