The Next Generation Learning Challenge, an effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and William and Flora Hewlett foundations to identify and scale technology-enabled approaches to college readiness and completion, has announced grants totaling $5.4 million in support of new learning models at the secondary and postsecondary level.
Representing the third round of investments made by NGLC since its inception in 2010, the grants will support institutions launching learning models that incorporate technology to accelerate and enhance personalized competency-based blended programs supported by business models that can sustain their expansion. Grant recipients developing models for college readiness will receive $150,000 in initial funding and up $300,000 in one-to-one matching funds. They include Aspire Public Schools (Memphis, Tennessee), which is planning to open two K-8 blended-learning schools in Memphis as part of a statewide turnaround initiative; Fayette County Public Schools (Lexington, Kentucky), which is launching a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Academy that will work to improve college readiness, maximize student learning, and close achievement gaps; and Intrinsic Schools (Chicago, Illinois), which is preparing to open its first 6-12 school in Chicago in 2013.
In addition, grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million were awarded to organizations focused on implementing breakthrough models for college completion. Recipients include the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, which was awarded $1 million to convert its existing competency-based Learn-on-Demand model to an associate's degree in arts/science-general studies, enabling college completion rates to increase while reducing time to completion and increasing affordability.
"NGLC's thirty 'wave-three' grantees are the new-model builders," said NGLC deputy director Andrew Calkins. "They are designing schools and college-level learning pathways that encourage access, persistence, and completion in learning environments that marry technology and close attention to students' individual needs. They are striving to accelerate and deepen learning for today's students, who have high expectations for engagement and personalization."