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Press Release


KnowledgeWorks Foundation Selects 6 High Schools for Transformation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Greg Harris: (513) 929-1338


CINCINNATI — Six large high schools from six urban districts in Ohio will have the financial resources they need to implement their plans for smaller, more personalized and effective schools through more than $6 million in grant awards announced today by KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

These are the second round of implementation grants that are part of the statewide Ohio High School Transformation Initiative (OHSTI) funded through the partnership of KnowledgeWorks Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support is also provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Ford Foundation, Project GRAD USA, and the Ohio Department of Education.

“These schools have demonstrated passion and commitment for the real changes that will impact teaching and learning for the students in their respective communities,” said Chad P. Wick, president and CEO of KnowledgeWorks Foundation. “Over the next three years, these grants coupled with the first round of implementation grants will impact more than 16,900 high school students in some of Ohio’s most challenged urban high schools.”

Schools receiving implementation grant awards include: $612,000 for Buchtel High School in Akron Public Schools; $595,170 for Linden McKinley High School in Columbus Public Schools; $1,204,875 for Admiral King High School in Lorain Public Schools; $1,515,465 for Canton McKinley in Canton City Schools; $1,407,600 for Euclid High School in Euclid City Schools; and $869,040 for Rogers High School in Toledo Public Schools. Grant amounts are based on the size of each school’s student population.

These awards complete the three-year implementation grants to schools under the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative.

These schools are now entering a three-year implementation phase, during which they’ll receive extensive technical assistance and professional development from KnowledgeWorks Foundation focused on bringing to fruition their plans to create 19 new small, autonomous high schools, within their existing facilities. Each school will serve from 250 to 400 students. The new schools will be part of a formal network that brings them together to discuss challenges and solutions with other small schools from around the state and nation who have embraced the challenging work to transform their urban high schools.

“As we make these awards today, the schools and their partners are one step closer to realizing a new vision for public education,” said Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This vision is grounded in the belief that a personalized environment that promotes rigorous performance from students and staff are our future. It is very clear that through this unique initiative, lead by KnowledgeWorks Foundation, a new ideal will soon be realized.”

KnowledgeWorks Foundation believes an additional seven proposals are worthy of full implementation funding and intends to seek additional support to allow them to have the same opportunity for transformation. KnowledgeWorks has placed these seven schools in a “finalist” category and will independently make grant awards of $30,000 per school to continue the work while additional funding is pursued. These schools include: East Tech High School, Glenville High School, and Rhodes High School in Cleveland Municipal School District; Scott High School in Toledo Public Schools; Southview High School in Lorain Public Schools; Lima Senior High School in Lima City Schools; and Meadowdale High School in Dayton Public Schools.

Through the first phase of the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative, KnowledgeWorks Foundation provided assistance to 17 urban districts and 41 large high schools in the state of Ohio. This support has included school change coaches assigned to each high school, training and leadership conferences, site visits, and access to leading research and the nation’s top experts on how urban schools can be restructured to improve student learning. Also during this past year, high school teams across the state composed of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community members were working to complete applications that outlined how they would transform their large high schools into smaller schools that encourage teachers to develop nurturing relationships with their students and allow all students to succeed.

In addition to changing the size of a school, the grant criteria require districts to make fundamental improvements in teaching and learning by incorporating high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, high expectations for all students and deep, active community involvement in the lives of the students and the school.

“We cannot continue to run high schools as we have in the past if we want different results for all our students. School size is one important component of these new schools. To improve student achievement, these schools additionally must have high, clear academic standards, stimulating curriculum and caring, competent teachers. We are proud to be a partner with KnowledgeWorks Foundation in transforming these large high schools to help all students achieve,” said Dr. Susan T. Zelman, Ohio’s superintendent for public instruction.

KnowledgeWorks Foundation conducted a rigorous portfolio review which determined the schools that received implementation grants. Each portfolio was reviewed by experienced small school practitioners and researchers from across the country. District superintendents and members of the school design teams participated in a series of interviews designed to ascertain the depth of commitment to the plan. In addition, the Foundation consulted with members of a Stakeholder Advisory Group (composed of the leaders of all major statewide education organizations), the Ohio Department of Education, and other key stakeholders.

The re-designed schools are slated to open in fall 2004.

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KnowledgeWorks Foundation is Ohio's largest public education philanthropy. KnowledgeWorks Foundation provides funding and leadership for education initiatives throughout the state and is focused on creating and improving educational opportunities. The Foundation is committed to sharing knowledge gained and lessons learned with others in Ohio and across the nation to help inform public policy. Learn more about KnowledgeWorks Foundation at www.kwfdn.org.

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