Gates Foundation spending $30 million for charter schools
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending $30 million to help build 200 new charter schools for low-income students around the country.
The Associated Press
SEATTLE – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending $30 million to help build 200 new charter schools for low-income students around the country.
The grant to the NewSchools Venture Fund, announced this week, is the foundation's second donation to the organization that supports nonprofit charter management organizations, which start and run charter schools, said foundation spokesman Eli Yim.
A $22 million Gates grant in 2003 gave NewSchools the money to help create five new charter management organizations. The NewSchools Venture Fund supports charter organizations running schools in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., that enroll more than 26,000 students a year.
This year's grant will help support as many as 20 charter networks that are expected to start 200 schools and eventually educate 100,000 students in low-income urban communities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., the foundation said.
The foundation's support for charter schools will focus on high schools, Yim said. He said the foundation's officers have been impressed by the results of NewSchools' efforts, especially preparing low-income students to succeed in college.
NewSchools said low-income students in the charter schools it supports were outperforming students in their host districts by 36 percent in math and 52 percent in reading.
"The charter school movement holds the promise of improving radically the quality of public schooling in America," said Ted Mitchell, chief executive officer of NewSchools Venture Fund. "These schools are proving that all children can meet high standards if given the right tools and the right environment."
Yim said the $30 million grant is not a renewal of the previous $22 million grant; it is an expansion of support.
"We don't really renew grants," he said. "They came to us with a proposal for another grant."
The Gates Foundation continues to invest in American high schools in a number of different ways — from paying large schools to recreate themselves into groups of small learning communities to supporting new technology and teacher training initiatives. Foundation money has impacted a total of 1,100 schools serving an estimated 700,000 students.
"We continue to just work from the strategy of trying to improve student outcomes. We continue to explore a wide range of entry points to do that," Yim said, emphasizing that the foundation is not changing its education program to focus on charter schools.
"We want our money to be catalytic and do whatever works for a particular community," Yim said.
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