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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Professional Learning Partnerships

Deadline: March 8, 2019

The Professional Learning Partnerships initiative seeks to support partnerships that advance high-quality professional learning (PL) services that support implementation of high-quality, core instructional materials (HQIM) in ways that are efficacious for student learning and efficient for providers to sustain beyond the grant term. This initiative is a part of the larger portfolio of investments that comprise the K-12 Curriculum and Instructional Tools portfolio. This investment specifically relates to the following strategic goal for this portfolio:

“Delivery Capacity: Validate the theory that professional learning service providers can a) demonstrate impact on student outcomes that exceeds that yielded by adoption and use of a high-quality curriculum alone, and b) offer diverse services that fit broader market demand and have the potential for scale.”

This investment is part of the “Solutions” portfolio, which in part aims to increase availability of quality solutions for curriculum and instructional tools, awareness of those solutions, and support for efficacious curriculum implementation models that have the potential for scale, with the notion that those three goals will increase usage. However, it does not directly fund scaling usage of products or services. This initiative will provide flexible capital to support the development of curriculum-connected professional learning services with promise to yield meaningful student outcomes and offer significant value to districts, schools, and other stakeholders and satisfaction to educators, thus providing attractive solutions that can be sustained independent of philanthropic support. Successful partnerships will support high-quality implementation of core (tier one) instructional materials in one of the following five disciplinary segments: middle school mathematics; high school mathematics; middle school English language arts (ELA); high school ELA; or middle school science.

The scope of the solicitation is to help adoption of high-quality, curriculum-aligned PL move beyond early adopters to reach “fast followers” who are mission-driven, value evidence of impact, see curriculum as core school infrastructure that all schools and educators deserve, and believe or can easily come to recognize that a high-quality curriculum and the supports required to use it well are important levers to promote equitable student outcomes. To help achieve this shift, the Foundation seeks to validate the theory that service providers can a) demonstrate impact on student outcomes that exceeds that yielded by adoption and use of a high-quality curriculum alone, and b) offer diverse services that fit broader market demand and have the potential for scale. It believes that three key levers can contribute to this strategic goal:

  • Build capacity in district- and school-support organizations to scale curriculum-connected, coherent instructional systems
  • Support quality assurance organizations to create ecosystem-level shared expectations around the quality of the features of such systems
  • Create opportunities for new partners and partnerships to demonstrate demand for curriculum implementation services

The Foundation is particularly interested in supporting service development and refinement in middle and high schools serving student populations that are at least 50 percent Black, Latino, emerging multilingual or English Learner (EL)-designated, and/or low-income, in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and North Carolina. Successful applicants proposing projects outside those geographies must submit proposals together with a local education agency serving at least 50,000 students. However, the Curriculum portfolio is not a place-based strategy and is interested in solutions that can be diffused more broadly. Examples of potential partnership approaches could include:

  • Provider collaboration to expand joint offerings: Curriculum authors and PL providers collaborate to modify existing, adult-facing, curriculum-aligned PL content to calibrate dosage; to enhance teacher educative features; and/or to provide training that addresses unmet needs of particular student beneficiaries, and curriculum authors certify partner providers to deliver those services
  • Provider collaboration to strengthen relationships among independent offerings: PL providers collaborate to refer districts, schools, and other stakeholders to the best providers given the articulated needs of districts, intermediate units, schools, and other stakeholders; geographic distribution; and respective areas of expertise
  • Provider and larger LEA collaboration to design solutions: Providers partner with LEA(s) serving at least 50,000 students to develop or tailor PL services within local secondary schools whose student populations are at least 50 percent Black, Latino, EL-designated, and/or low-income to meet stakeholder and student needs without placing undue demand on provider efficiency, while demonstrating that the service model could be scaled to settings of similar size and student demographics

Amount: Grants of up to $1,000,000 each will support six to ten partnerships over approximately 2.5 years.

Eligibility: Awards will be made to teams of organizations that can include curriculum authors; PL providers; and/or districts, intermediate units, and schools, represented by a point organization that will receive the grant and distribute funds across the partnership. Applicant teams should be comprised of partners with aligned visions and differentiated services, who are eager to work together voluntarily.

The primary goal is to support new partnerships that demonstrate demand for curriculum implementation services, particularly in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and North Carolina. Successful applicants proposing projects outside those geographies must submit proposals together with a local education agency serving at least 50,000 students.

Link: http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/rfp-professional-learning-partnerships/

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