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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Networks for School Improvement

Deadline: October 26, 2018

The Networks for School Improvement (NSI) initiative is 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. A Network for School Improvement (NSI) is defined as a group of secondary schools (grades 6-12) working both collectively and individually in partnership with a high-quality Intermediary (see eligibility section below for definition) to use a continuous improvement process to improve outcomes for Black, Latino, and low-income students. To support the acceleration of learning and improvement, NSIs set a network aim, tackle problems of practice that are common across the network schools and track their progress using indicators that are predictive of student learning, graduation, and postsecondary success. NSIs are: 1) led by an Intermediary skilled in: continuous improvement processes, data collection and data analysis from multiple sources, and developing school-level adult capacity to address the network problem and aim; and 2) facilitated by an Intermediary to drive school and network improvements, surface learning within and across schools, and uncover meaningful variance as schools work to reach a specific and measurable aim.

The current NSI opportunity will fund Type 1 (large) grants. Type 1 grants are reserved for intermediaries that have demonstrated capacity and experience working with schools 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. These intermediaries:

  • Have successfully facilitated a network of schools or districts that used a continuous improvement process to improve one or more of the three predictive student outcomes for Black, Latino, and low-income students
  • Are (or will be with planning funds) ready to launch an NSI in at least 10 schools during School Year 2019-20 that aims to increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who make progress against one or more of the three predictive student outcomes

Applications must aim to improve one or more of the following three student outcomes:

  • College ready on-track (as indicated by High School (HS) math proficiency, HS ELA proficiency, HS advanced course taking, HS GPA, and on-time HS graduation)
  • High school college access (as indicated by by financial access, college entrance exam, postsecondary application, on-time HS graduation, and postsecondary enrollment)
  • Postsecondary on-track (as indicated by postsecondary match, college course completion, and postsecondary GPA)

Amount: Award sizes will be determined based on the number of schools in the network (see online guidelines for a chart detailing the number of schools/year and estimated costs) and will include additional capacity building for Intermediaries. For this opportunity, the Foundation is seeking proposals that fall within the range of $50,000-$100,000 per school/year with a maximum grant award value not to exceed $13,000,000 for a five-year grant.

Eligibility: To apply for a Type 1 award, intermediaries must have: (1) an annual revenue of greater than $1,500,000; (2) more than five full-time employees; and/or (3) sufficient finance infrastructure. Intermediaries must also demonstrate alignment to the Foundation’s Networks for School Grantmaking Guidelines. An intermediary is defined as a central, coordinating entity that brings together multiple school leadership teams to tackle common problems and work toward common aims. Intermediaries serve several functions, including: a) supporting individual school teams to use continuous improvement to improve student outcomes; b) networking school teams with one another to innovate, improve, and build capacity; c) sharing and codifying lessons learned within and across the network; and d) bringing together key stakeholders who can support and accelerate a network’s success, including external experts. Intermediaries may be, but are not limited to: nonprofit school improvement organizations; regional education service agencies; school districts; charter management organizations (CMOs); higher education institutions; or for-profit professional services firms.

To qualify as a Network for School Improvement, network schools working with the Intermediary must meet the following criteria:

  • Schools identify and organize around a common problem and aim related to improving the percentage of Black, Latino, and low-income students who make progress against one of the three outcomes identified in the table of Outcomes and Indicators.
  • Schools serve students in grades 9, 10, 11, and/or 12. Schools may focus on one or more of those grades depending on the network’s aim and theory of how to reach that aim.
  • The majority of students who are served across the network schools are Black, Latino, and/or low-income students. Low-income students are students who qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. Given the foundation’s commitment to equity, we are particularly interested in RFP applicants who plan to work with networks of schools with very large populations of Black, Latino and/or low-income students.
  • Schools are represented by teams that include leaders, relevant administrators, and/or teachers with the time, expertise, ambition, and trust to solve the problem at hand. Depending on the nature of the problem, school teams might also include district staff.
  • Schools have the commitment and support of district/CMO leadership from the beginning. Support might include providing release time, access to data, and flexibility regarding district or CMO mandates.
  • Schools have the authority and autonomy needed to address the problem of practice. School team members have the support and time needed to participate in the network learning and convenings.

Link: http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/school-network-rfp-late-2018/

Note: Applications are accepted through two stages. Stage 1 is an assessment of applicants’ readiness to lead NSIs based on their previous work and is due by October 26, 2018. Intermediaries that successfully pass Stage 1 will be invited by November 9 to complete Stage 2 of the written RFP, which is due Dec. 21, 2018. Stage 2 is the first point at which we will ask applicants to present a proposal.

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