Gates Foundation Grant

March 18, 2013


The grant aims to foster educational collaboration to put the needs of Boston's children first.

Gates Grant CeremonyDue to its deep experience in advancing knowledge and innovative solutions in response to social and educational challenges, the Wheelock College Aspire Institute was named by the Boston Compact as fiscal sponsor for a $3.25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Compact, which Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched in late 2011, formally links district public schools, public charter schools, and private Catholic schools around common goals and shared visions. The shared goal is to improve teaching and learning for all Boston children. The new funds are aimed at supporting that goal through deeper collaboration between schools and growing existing partnerships. Sixteen cities were invited to compete for the award based upon prior compact work and Boston was one of just seven to receive funding in this round of awards.

Since its launch, all 128 Boston Public Schools, all 16 charter operators, as well as 22 Catholic schools have formally joined the compact, which represents 88 percent of Boston students.

The Gates Foundation awarded Boston this funding because of the city's track record of collaboration and its shared focus on improving outcomes for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and Black and Latino boys.

The grant will allow the compact to train 250 teachers and administrators to improve instruction for English Language Learners, which is the fastest growing population of students in Boston. It will also help launch three more school performance partnerships. Already, a partnership between Boston Collegiate Charter School, Jeremiah E. Burke High School and Cristo Rey High School has led to improved changes in lesson plans to meet new federal standards. Another partnership between the Harbor School and Neighborhood House Charter School has allowed teachers to share proven classroom practices in math and English language arts, resulting in improved academic performance for students.

Grant funding from the Gates Foundation and other foundations will support efforts to identify and grow local initiatives aimed at accelerating performance for Black and Latino boys. Funding will also support an ongoing compact collaboration to coordinate and simplify the enrollment process for families while also creating new ways for all schools to support all students, regardless of language skills or special needs.

"We are excited to host this important Boston education reform initiative. We hope that, through the Compact, Boston can lead the way in developing collective solutions for providing all families and children a quality education," said Aspire Institute's Senior Director, Jake Murray. "For Wheelock to serve as the home of the Compact makes great sense. The Compact's objectives are closely aligned with Wheelock's mission and academic focus areas."

The funding from the Gates Foundation continues Aspire Institute's track record of fostering collaborative partnerships. In fall 2012, the Institute launched four leading-edge programs and partnerships enabled by $725,000 in funding from the DEEC, Barr Foundation and the Lynch Foundation.

Pictured are: Several of the Catholic, charter and district school leaders at the December 5, 2012 announcement of the Gates Foundation grant. From left to right: Diana Lam, Kevin Andrews, Meg Campbell, Mary Driscoll, Mary Grassa O'Neill, William Gartside. Roger Harris, Rev. Gregory Groover. (Photo by Toni Jackson, Conservatory Lab Charter School)

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