Gates Foundation Announces Expanded Education Grantmaking

Gates Foundation Announces Expanded Education Grantmaking

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has unveiled several new education initiatives designed to build on its previous work in high schools, the Seattle Times reports.

With an initial focus on community colleges, the foundation hopes to double the number of low-income U.S. students who graduate from college or some kind of post-high-school program by 2025 and increase from 22 percent to 80 percent the number of low-income and minority students who leave high school prepared to go to college. The foundation also intends to lead efforts to create a tougher, clearer, more concise set of national high school learning standards.

To accomplish those goals, the foundation plans to award as much as $500 million over the next five years to improve teacher quality in a handful of districts, and an additional $500 million in support of research and data-collection efforts. Indeed, the foundation's giving for education overall is expected to grow, though it's not yet clear by how much. Over the past eight years, the foundation's education grantmaking has totaled some $4 billion, with half of that allocated to college scholarships and half in support of its work to reinvent high schools.

Bill Gates has acknowledged that some of the foundation's early efforts to break up big schools into smaller units were disappointing, in that they did not lead to hoped-for gains in achievement or an increase in the numbers of students going on to college. Although the foundation will continue its support for smaller high schools, it plans to refocus its efforts on improving teacher quality and tools for educators.

"Doctors aren't left alone in their offices to try to design and test new medicines," Gates said. "They're supported by a huge medical-research industry. Teachers need the same kind of support."

Linda Shaw. "Gates Foundation Turns Attention to Higher Education." Seattle Times 11/12/2008.