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Aldine ISD, YES Prep receive grant from Gates Foundation

To support its goal of providing every student with a high-quality public education that prepares them for success in college and career, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Jan. 29 grants totaling $500,000 to five cities where public charter and district schools are committed to working together to support student success: Aldine ISD, Lawrence (MA), San Jose (CA), Spokane (WA) and Tulsa (OK). These communities join a group of 15 other cities across the U.S. that have also signed District-Charter Collaboration Compacts – plans for bold collaboration between public charter and district public schools.

The foundation’s investment of $100,000 each enables these communities to continue scaling and working on initiatives that support the strategic focus of improving educational outcomes for all students, including:

Joint professional development for teachers in public charter and district schools;

Implementing the Common Core State Standards with aligned instructional tools and supports for teachers;

Creating personalized learning experiences for students;

Universal enrollment system for all public schools in a city; and

Common metrics to help families evaluate all schools on consistent criteria.

“These cities and their leaders understand the importance of collaboration and the benefits of sharing best practices to support student success,” said Don Shalvey, Deputy Director of US Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They have taken the initiative to go beyond the traditional comparison of charters vs. district schools and are working together to benefit all students in their communities. We commend these cities and their local leaders for their commitment to providing a quality education for every student and expanded public school options in the spirit of collaboration.”

The Aldine compact brings together two Broad Prize winners –

Aldine Independent School District (Broad Prize of Urban Educators) and YES Prep (Broad Prize of Public Charter Schools). The two organizations will work together to increase college readiness and graduation rates through sharing information, best practices and educator supports to develop leadership skills.

The District-Charter Collaboration Compacts are designed to address issues that have often led to tensions between public charter and district schools. These include access to equitable funding and facilities, as well as whether charter schools are open to all students, including English language learners and those with special needs. Through a mix of accountability, collaboration and pledging to share resources and best practices, Compact cities are working through many of these issues.

“We are excited about formalizing our collaboration with YES Prep,” said Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg. “I firmly believe that working together, we will collectively have a better chance of improving the educational opportunities and outcomes for all children.”

In addition to the five District-Charter Collaboration Compacts announced today, since 2010 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in similar compacts in Austin; Baltimore; Boston; Central Falls (RI); Chicago; Denver; Hartford, (CT); Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Nashville; New Orleans; New York City; Philadelphia; Rochester (NY); Sacramento; and Spring Branch (TX). In these cities, public charter and district school leaders, teachers, superintendents and other community partners, such as mayors and local teachers’ unions or school board members, are working together to ensure all students in their communities receive a high-quality education that prepares them for college and career. To date, the foundation has invested more than $25 million in Compact cities.

To learn more about the District-Charter Collaboration Compacts and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s education strategy, please visit www.gatesfoundation.org/education