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Backing Schools: A Photo Essay about a Gates Foundation Grant to the Change Leadership Group

Giving many cause to celebrate the first day back to school in Boston, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced two grants to HGSE and the nonprofit group Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) on Wednesday, September 6, at the Mission Hill School. Dean Jerome T. Murphy gathered with GSE's Tony Wagner, Mission Hill School founder Debbie Meier, and CCE's Dan French to thank the Foundation's Executive Director of Education, Tom Vander Ark.

The Foundation's $3.6 million grant to HGSE will fund the Change Leadership Group, a national educator leadership training program housed under the Programs in Professional Education. The Change Leadership Group will be the first-in-the-nation program to recruit, train, and supervise a network of education experts to deliver on-site training and support to school districts around the country.

After acknowledging the generous support of the Foundation, Wagner, who with Robert Kegan will co-direct the Group, shared his vision of how they would work with school districts.

"Unlike conventional corporate consulting, where experts create a plan for change but are rarely involved in the implementation process," Wagner explained, "the Change Leadership Group will support the growth and development of school leaders by drawing on their knowledge and working with them on the process of improvement over time."

Dean Murphy noted that "while individual schools have boosted student performance and teacher capacity, no community has been able to take their strategies to scale across a whole system." HGSE's Change Leadership Group will help schools and districts take good programs to scale.

Mission Hill School students gave testimonials on how their lives have changed since attending a small school where faculty take time to collaborate, listen, and problem-solve with their students. In addition to providing funding for GSE's Change Leadership Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $4.9 million to the Center for Collaborative Education to support the work of small schools.

The Change Leadership Group expects to develop a new certification program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for change leadership professionals who become expert in helping districts implement new strategies. As this network of providers grows, the Change Leadership Group will evolve into a new kind of not-for-profit enterprise-matching trained professionals to the communities that have the greatest need.

Also in attendance at the celebration were Coalition of Essential Schools founder Ted Sizer, students and teachers from the Mission Hill School and the New Mission High School.

The key to improving student learning is creating new forms of adult learning first in schools, districts, and communities," says Tony Wagner, co-director of HGSE's new Change Leadership Group. He (left) and former HGSE dean and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools Ted Sizer say schools must draw on the expertise of their staff to be reinvented from within.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives by sharing advances in health and learning with the global community. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based Foundation has an asset base of $21.8 billion. Preventing deadly diseases among poor children by expanding access to vaccines, and developing vaccines against malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, are central priorities. Other major efforts include extending unprecedented opportunities for learning by bringing computers with Internet access to every eligible library in the U.S. and Canada, and providing scholarships to academically talented minority students in the U.S. with severe financial need through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. For complete information and grant guidelines, visit

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