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December Newsletter

Significant Funding Supports Baltimore City Public Schools

With state funding limited and the fiscal implications of the pandemic ongoing, philanthropic support plays a vital role in providing Baltimore City Public Schools, its students and staff with the resources they need to thrive. This month, City Schools announced four significant grants – totaling more than $20 million for programs that directly support students.

The Fund for Educational Excellence is proud to have supported the district in securing these grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and will be managing these funds over the coming years.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
Ninth grade is a crucial year for students – all too often, young people who fall behind during this year never catch back up, and their likelihood of graduating on time drops significantly. This five-year, $12 million grant from the Gates Foundation will help change that, funding a wide variety of initiatives, new staff and resources. For an overview of this project, and the problem we aim to address, check out our recent blog from Mavis Jackson, City Schools’ Director of College Readiness.

Find the Blog Here

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s $1.5 million grant – its first in Baltimore City – offers multi-faceted support to City Schools educators, students and families. The grant, broken into three focus areas, will fund professional learning for staff in literacy, a distance learning partnership with the University of Baltimore to ensure students can access college courses virtually, and initiatives that expand and enhance family engagement, ensuring students are supported at home and in school.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation:
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation announced a $5 million grant continuation in support of the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project, an initiative that transforms City Schools libraries into inspirational spaces that enhance achievement. The additional funding brings the Foundation’s total commitment of this multi-year effort to $15 million and will provide operating support for the existing fifteen libraries and develop four new libraries over the next three years. Two of the four libraries are expected to be completed in early 2021.

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies:
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies’ $1.5 million grant will enhance City Schools’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping students who need it most. Over the next eighteen months, the grant will fund small group tutoring to help students struggling with remote learning, career transition coaching for those entering the workforce, and enhanced instruction for English Language Learners.

These grants and the programs they fund will make a significant difference in the lives and learning of Baltimore City Public School students – both immediately during this time of COVID while simultaneously creating a foundation for sustained, transformative success. On behalf of the district and all Baltimoreans with a stake in the future of our children and city, we express sincere appreciation for this support, and excitement for the now-possible improvements that lie ahead.

Heart of the Schools Awardees Featured in Baltimore Magazine 

Have you seen the news? The December issue of Baltimore Magazine features a 12-page spread honoring and highlighting the 2020 Heart of the School Award winners and honorees!

While we couldn’t celebrate the five winners and five honoree principals in person at an event this year, we’re thrilled that the inspiring stories of their work and commitment to students and families is reaching so many people throughout our community. The Fund’s President and CEO, Roger Schulman, said it best when he told Baltimore Magazine:

“We want everyone to feel what we felt when selecting these remarkable individuals from more than 500 nominations received from every corner of the city. We are not surprised, but we are in awe of the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and leadership they display—even in this most challenging of times.”

Check out the online version of the 12-page spread here.

New Resources and Workshops to Support Families Through School Choice

With school choice season in full swing for City School students in fifth and eighth grade and their families, the Fund is sharing resources and hosting free, virtual workshops to support them as they select a middle or high school to attend next year.

Between now and the School Choice application deadline on January 22, families can visit the Fund’s website to access a composite score calculator to gauge what schools might be options, learn how to use the school finder tool on the Baltimore City Public Schools website, review school open house schedules and application information, and book an on-demand School Choice Workshop. Click here to check it out!

Our School Choice Workshops provide in-depth, specified guidance for families and students considering their options. Book yours today or join us at the next workshop – January 7 at 5:30 PM. Register here!

For more information on everything related to School Choice, check out City Schools’ Choice Fair website, here.

Of Note:

Additional insights, updates and resources:

  • Exciting News: We are thrilled to share that Angelique Jessup, the Fund’s Program Director of Grade Level Reading, is one of 21 new National Fellows at the Flamboyan Foundation. Over the next 22 months, the Fellows will work together and with 3 other regions to build a culture of equity-centered real family engagement in our communities. Learn more about the Flamboyan Fellowship and the team here.
  • Congratulations: to Lake Clifton Eastern High School’s James “Coach Money” Monroe and Reginald F. Lewis High School’s Coach Emmanual Glover on their selections as Baltimore Ravens High School Football Coaches of the Week! Twitter.
  • Great Read: In a powerful op-ed for CNN, Miguel Cervantes del Toro, Principal of Callaway Elementary School and a 2018 Heart of the School Award Honoree, calls for the next Secretary of Education to actively dismantle the injustices of systemic racism for all students. CNN.
  • Make your voices heard: City Schools’ Office of Equity is launching an Equity Advisory Committee. Families, high school students, staff, and community members interested in serving on the committee should complete the survey here.
  • Wise words: After his inauguration, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott popped into a virtual classroom with students from Henderson Hopkins Elementary School to share inspiring guidance on what matters as they continue growing and learning. Twitter.

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