$56 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The latest education gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports programs that are developing innovative curricula for small K-12 schools, particularly schools that will use technology to a significant degree. The grants, which total $56 million, include the first Gates Foundation grants outside the state of Washington as part of the foundation’s plan to support model programs across the country.

The Gates Foundation seeks programs that emphasize small classes and the use of technology, because the foundation’s leaders believe that a small, personalized learning environment is the key to helping every student succeed. To qualify for consideration, the proposed and existing programs had to enroll fewer than 400 students, include the use of technology, create learning opportunities such as internships for every student, and connect each student with an adult mentor.

Several of the grants were directed at programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, one of which is being created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Another Massachusetts organization, the Center for Collaborative Education, was awarded $4.9 million to create the New England Center for Small Schools, which will open as many as 20 new small schools in the next five years. It also will provide evaluation and assessment support to help small schools strengthen student achievement and accountability.

The Gates Foundation continued to direct funds to the state of Washington, too. The University of Washington will receive $6.5 million, most of which ($5.8 million) will be used to fund the initial work of the Institute for K-12 Leadership, which was created earlier this year. The Institute will spend the next four years working to create model school programs in San Francisco; Compton, Calif., near Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; East St. Louis, Ill.; Detroit; Cincinnati; Cleveland; and Boston. The remainder of the University of Washington funds will establish the Small Schools Program at the university’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.

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$3.6 million from the Lucent Technologies Foundation

The Lucent Technologies Foundation awarded $3.6 million to 11 partnerships between universities and public schools focused on improving K-12 education. The Lucent Technologies Foundation—the charitable arm of Lucent Technologies—will contribute about $50 million around the world this year toward youth development projects, including education.

The academic partnerships will receive either one- or three-year grants ranging from $90,000 to $450,000. Several have strong technology focuses, including:

• Connecticut College and New London Public Schools, for “Teach and Learn Partnership for Math and Science Excellence.” This project received $91,000 to support a program that is designed to “blur the boundaries between K-12 and higher education in math and science,” according to its developers. It builds on a current collaboration to expand a series of seminars for middle school teachers conducted by Connecticut College faculty in math, technology, and science. The program also enables middle school students to come to the college monthly to work with faculty on experiments in state-of-the-art laboratory space.

• Princeton University, Columbia University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University at Camden, and New York University, for “The New York-New Jersey Partners in Science Program.” This program has been funded with $106,000 this year and $395,000 cumulatively during the next three years to enable high school chemistry teachers to bring inquiry-based methodologies into their classrooms using cutting-edge technology. The program will help teachers develop new teaching strategies, foster long-term scholarly collaborations, and guide students toward careers in science. This funding expands a program established in 1988 in Arizona and later expanded in 1997 by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

In choosing grant recipients (66 proposals were submitted this year), the Lucent Foundation considers how programs address the following objectives: reform of urban schools; reform of professional development programs for teachers and teacher recognition programs; enhancement of curriculum in the areas of science and math to improve K-12 teaching and to increase excitement among students; and preparation of young people for an increasingly diverse world.

For information about future Lucent Technologies Foundation grants, contact the Philanthropic Initiative Inc. at (617) 338-2590.