Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, and that all students — especially black, Latino, and low-income students — must have equal access to a great public education that prepares them for adulthood, the has issued a Request for Proposals for its program to fund networks for school improvement (NSI).
An NSI is a group of secondary schools working in partnership with an intermediary organization to implement a continuous improvement process designed to significantly increase the number of black, Latino, and low-income students who earn a high school diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and stay on track in their first year to earn a credential with labor-market value. Secondary school teams work collaboratively to identify, test, and refine solutions that target a problem and reach a common aim across the network. An NSI's ultimate aim is to improve outcomes that are predictive of high school graduation and postsecondary success.
The foundation anticipates making investments in at least two types of intermediaries in support of NSIs.
Type 1 grants: These grants are reserved for intermediaries that have demonstrated capacity and experience in the following areas: continuous improvement methods; data collection and analysis; network facilitation; school-level leadership development; improving outcomes for black, Latino, and low-income students; and knowledge management.
Intermediaries receiving Type 1 grants must have successfully facilitated a network of schools or districts that used a continuous improvement process to improve one or more predictive student outcome or indicator for black, Latino, and low-income students and are ready (or will be, with planning funds) to launch an NSI in 2018 or early 2019 that increases the number of black, Latino, and low-income students who make progress against a predictive student outcome or indicator in ten to fifty schools.
Type 1 grants are multiyear awards (three to five years) for a small number of networks. The foundation anticipates awarding only three to five Type 1 grants in 2018 and expects that the number will increase over the next three years.
The size of Type 1 grant awards will be determined based on the number of schools in the network and will include additional capacity building for intermediaries. Based on an average network size of twenty to forty schools for three to five years, the foundation will award grants ranging between $1 million and $4 million per year.
Type 2 grants: These grants are reserved for intermediaries that have demonstrated experience in some, but not all, of the following areas: continuous improvement methods; data collection and analysis; network facilitation; school-level leadership development; improving outcomes for black, Latino, and low-income students; and knowledge management.
Intermediaries that apply for Type 2 grants are developing their capacity to facilitate an NSI. As such, these grants are generally smaller in scope and duration. The foundation anticipates funding ten to fifteen Type 2 NSIs in this first year. Each grant will fund a twelve- to twenty-four-month improvement project aligned with the foundation's NSI strategy and appropriate for the applicant's context. Award sizes (up to $500,000) will be determined based on project specifics, including the scope and duration of the investment and the number of schools involved in the network.
The foundation will be hosting informational webinars for prospective applicants on January 17, at 12:00 p.m. (PST) and January 26, at 11:00 a.m. PST).
See the Gates Foundation website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.