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Boston-based Education Research Centers Receive $8.5 Million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

First day of school brings good news to the Center for Collaborative Education and the Harvard Graduate School of Education

The Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) have received grants totaling $8.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish an educator leadership training program and a small schools support center.

The grants were announced during a back-to-school celebration at the Mission Hill School in Boston. Deborah Meier, the school's principal and a CCE board member, announced the $4,900,000 grant to a group that included the Boston Public Schools superintendent Thomas Payzant, HGSE Dean Jerome T. Murphy, Coalition of Essential Schools founder Ted Sizer, students, teachers and representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"This is the first day back to school--a day that always holds great promise," said Meier, "and today that promise is already being realized. These grants are a tremendous boost to those of us who have dedicated our lives to helping all students achieve."

The Mission Hill School and other members of the Coalition of Essential Schools in New England will be some of the first beneficiaries of the Foundation's grant to the Center for Collaborative Education. Currently, there are nine schools in the Coalition, seven in the Boston area: Boston Arts Academy, Boston Evening Academy, Fenway High School, Greater Egleston Community High School, Young Achievers Math and Science School, New Mission High School and the Mission Hill School. The CCE will use the grant funds to create the New England Center for Small Schools, a research and support center that will work to strengthen and support these New England schools.

The Center for Small Schools will be a resource for school leaders who support focused learning environments where every student can achieve. It will provide evaluation and assessment support to help schools strengthen student achievement and accountability, and work to develop a clearinghouse of research and information on small schools. The center also plans to work with school districts throughout the region to create as many as 20 new small schools over the next five years.

"Increasing amounts of research have proven that small schools are more successful in improving student academics, behavior, and attitude," said Dan French, Executive Director of the Center for Collaborative Education. "The New England Center for Small Schools will not only support existing small schools, but also provide resources for schools and districts interested in reinventing and reorganizing old systems."

A First-in-the-Nation Program

While the Center for Small Schools will work directly to create small schools, HGSE's new Change Leadership Group (CLG), funded by a $3,600,000 grant from the Foundation, will ensure that educators leading these schools have the professional assistance needed to move the process forward. The Change Leadership Group will be a 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 engaged in reinvention. The CLG will produce training materials and act as a clearinghouse for education research, theory, and best practices that can help to effect improved student learning.

"The Change Leadership Group will address a key missing gap for improving student performance in our nation's schools," said HGSE Dean Jerome T. Murphy. "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. To do this, outside 'coaching' must be both more effective and more widely available."

The Change Leadership Group will work with districts to make organizational, structural, and cultural changes that will enable all students to achieve higher standards. Drawing on the knowledge of people within districts, the CLG will support the growth and development of school leaders and work with them on achieving improvement over time.

"One key to improving student achievement is to create new forms of adult learning in schools, districts, and communities," said Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group. "Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and educators and community members need the opportunity to learn and understand how these changes impact student success. Once equipped with this knowledge they can become powerful architects of change."

"There are few resources available to education leaders involved in the change process," said Tom Vander Ark, Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "These grants to the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center for Collaborative Education will offer the funding necessary to provide educators with the knowledge and skills to create the kind of small, focused learning environments that help all students achieve."

Both grants announced today are a part of a larger three-year, $350 million commitment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help all students achieve at high levels by recognizing and encouraging high-achievement models and developing strong leadership throughout the education system.

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

For More Information

Contact Christine Sanni at 617-496-5873