Gates Foundation Invests $40 Million To Create Small High Schools
To dramatically increase high school graduation and college attendance rates for the most disadvantaged youth, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed more than $40 million to create 70 small high schools last month. These high schools will enable students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree or two years of college credit. The effort is a partnership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Eight organizations will share these funds and redistribute the money to create “early college high schools” in communities throughout the country. The intermediary grantees are Antioch University Seattle, Jobs for the Future, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Middle College High School Consortium, National Council of La Raza, SECME Inc., Utah Partnership Foundation and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
“These new small schools will help bridge the gap between high school and college, where we lose too many students,” says Tom Vander Ark, executive director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The last years of high school are some of the most important developmentally and often squandered academically. At these small schools, students will receive the personalized and accelerated learning they need to ensure a smoother transition to college or the workplace.”
According to recent studies, college graduates earn 70 percent more than high school graduates. Moreover, high school dropouts are four times more likely to be unemployed than college graduates. While three-fourths of high school graduates now go to college, more than half fail to complete a degree, and one-third don’t make it to sophomore year.
“Within the big impersonal schools that most young people now attend, too many students wander anonymously along a path of least resistance and low expectations. As a result, many low-income students and students of color either drop out of high school or quit in the first year of college,” says Hilary Pennington, CEO of Jobs for the Future, speaking on behalf of the eight organizations receiving grants from the foundations.
“This is not acceptable in today’s economy, where a college degree, not a high school diploma, is a ticket to the middle class,” Pennington says. Jobs for the Future (JFF), a Boston-based organization that promotes innovative reform in education and work-force development, will serve as the lead coordinator, manager and policy advocate for the effort. JFF will receive $5.7 million.
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