- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week launched an open and competitive request for proposals process for grants to participate in its Networks for School Improvement initiative.
- The process will last through Feb. 21 and is focused on finding "intermediaries" who will assist schools in implementing interventions to keep students on track at key academic transition periods and facilitate on-time graduation and postsecondary enrollment. Grant-making will specifically be focused on supporting improved outcomes for black, Latino and low-income students.
- The foundation also plans to focus its support on helping middle and high schools collaborate on and learn from one another's repeatable best practices.
During a fall speech at the Council of the Great City Schools' annual conference in Cleveland, Bill Gates announced a shift in the Gates Foundation's educational philanthropy priorities. The new approach places more focus on supporting "locally driven solutions" for student achievement from networks of districts, schools and teachers, apparently inspired in part by district collaborations like California's CORE Districts and other such collaboratives that have grown in popularity in recent years.
The foundation also backed away from investing in teacher evaluation efforts, one of its most-criticized areas of educational philanthropy as the impact of teacher or school evaluations tied to metrics like student test scores had been detracted, in part, as hindering innovative experimentation in the classroom.
The current RFP process follows a "request for information" process that also began in the fall, gathering information on work secondary schools and intermediaries had completed or wanted to initiate in order to put in place methods to raise outcomes for black, Latino and low-income students. The data gathered is expected to be released soon in a memo, and it will also be detailed in webinars taking place on Jan. 17 and Jan. 26.