Every child deserves good choices in life — and a school that will open the door to those opportunities. Young people deserve to finish high school prepared to thrive and prosper, to make positive change, and help build an equitable future for everyone. Yet far too few schools are capable of doing that today, especially in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Schools should offer a pathway to opportunity, but too often, they allow those with advantages to soar while others remain behind.
Schools must help children thrive as whole people. To get there, we must expand the definition of success and support students to grow academically, socially and emotionally. We have found that students learn more when they feel physically and emotionally safe; believe their abilities and skills can grow with effort; and develop ways to cope with their stress, emotions, feelings and behaviors. Our early indicators are strong, and we know it’s just the beginning for schools that are rapidly expanding their support for students in these areas.
We’re committed to supporting educators with bold new visions for schools. We know that each community’s needs won’t look the same. That’s why we’re doubling down on our support for founders with innovative designs for new schools. So far, we have supported 122 schools to open their doors. When fully enrolled, they will serve about 80,000 students, 84% of whom are children of color and 69% from families with low incomes.
Our definition of an innovative school is broad, and if you are a school founder with a great idea and plan, we’re eager to hear from you. While the ideas we support will involve varying approaches, all schools in our portfolio are committed to developing educational experiences that are student-driven and student-centered and aligned to these three design principles:
- Expanded Definition of Student Success: Every young person should finish high school prepared and inspired to pursue a life full of opportunity, choices, connection and meaning. To realize this aspiration, students need a strong academic foundation, as well as other mindsets, habits and skills that are correlated with success in life.
- Equity: School leaders must prioritize equity – holding high expectations for students and ensuring learning outcomes are not predictable by race, ethnicity, income, gender, or geography. Educators should work closely with families to create schools that embody their aspirations for their children and implement instructional approaches to meet the needs of every student.
- Innovation: Most existing schools were designed for a different time and purpose. We need to redesign schools, so they work better for today’s students. Innovation can and should take many forms, including combining new ideas with proven practice.
We provide funding and management assistance to support a team’s planning year, 12-14 months prior to opening a new school. We also provide funding for a school’s first three years of operation. Teams that received planning support from us are evaluated and considered for additional funding.