Dedicated to Strengthening

   America's Future Through Education

Recent Grants: Secondary Education
Secondary Education grants are made primarily for the early stages of innovative professional development programs that strengthen high school teachers and their teaching.  Some awards also are made to support new ideas that will have significant impact on established programs and/or replicate the program elsewhere.  (Please see the Secondary Education Program guidelines for additional information.)
Secondary Education Grants
CAST, INC. - $100,000
Wakefield, MA

To create a suite of online professional learning courses for high school teachers related to the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION - $200,000
Annapolis, MD
To provide standards-based training in environmental literacy for high school teachers. 

MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY - $150,000
Woods Hole, MA
To develop the second phase of The Wolbachia Project for new teachers in urban schools.  Serving teachers from across the country, the project’s scientific focus is to study symbiosis, specifically the infection of insects by the Wolbachia bacterium. This introduces high school biology teachers to the concepts and approaches used to address questions in different fields of biology, from ecosystem studies to cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics.  
This grant would enable the second phase of the program in partnership with Bridgewater State University and Brockton High School.  It is expected to serve as an important step forward to focus sequentially on school districts with large minority student populations.   

NEW YORK HALL OF SCIENCE - $120,000
New York, NY
To convert the successful Crime Science Investigation Technology (CSIT) program into an online format.  Building upon a $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant, the New York Hall of Science developed curriculum that incorporates an interdisciplinary, real-world approach to forensic science as a vehicle to engage high school students in interdisciplinary study.  The grant will integrate inquiry-based instruction with earth science, life science, math, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and geography. The New York Hall of Science, located in Queens, NY, is a national leader in innovative STEM related exhibitions, research, and educational programs.
Secondary Education (continued)

QUEENS UNIVERSITY - $200,000
Charlotte, NC
To develop a digital learning program in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).  Queens University’s Knight School of Communication has pioneered innovative partnerships with non-profits, small businesses, industry and civic leaders, which includes developing the Digital Charlotte site as a citywide virtual gathering space and media resource.  
This grant will use the Digital Charlotte platform as a virtual education space, so that this curriculum is widely accessible.  Queens will work with the CMS to craft digital learning objectives, assess emerging needs and challenges, collaborate in development of specialized curriculum and resources, and provide technology training and professional development workshops in state-of-the-art facilities. Schools serving economically challenged neighborhoods will be targeted for inclusion.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION - $200,000
Washington, DC

To create online class and digital resources for high school science teachers.  The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access will develop an online teacher professional development program that supports the Common Core State Standards.  Instructional strategies will include assessment of evidence in digitized, primary source material complemented by Smithsonian curators, researchers and scientists, solutions to scientific or technical problem by comparing and contrasting different sources, strategies for close reading of texts, and a template for digital asset analysis.  The Smithsonian Center has been at the forefront of providing online learning to more than 100,000 participants in live and archived education conferences, working with the Council of Chief State School Officers for more than five years.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO - $150,000
Chicago, IL
To establish a STEM related urban teacher leadership program. 

CENTER FOR TEACHING QUALITY - $150,000
Carrboro, NC  
For a teacher leadership initiative centered on implementation of the Common Core.  The Center believes that the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards present a significant opportunity to re-imagine professional learning through the use of virtual communities.  This grant will fund a project that recruits and engages 500 North Carolina teachers in virtual professional learning communities focused on the Common Core and related instructional tools.  A team of 20 National Board Certified Teachers will lead the implementation of research-based, Common Core–aligned instruction.  Results will be disseminated nationally and an archive of lesson plans with accompanying video and reflections will be made available for teaching colleagues to access online.

EXPLORATORIUM - $200,000
San Francisco, CA
For professional development in environmental education. Funding will support the Exploratorium’s Currents of Change program. The two-year project aims to bring the science of sustainability into the classroom, along with the social awareness necessary for environmental stewardship. Using San Francisco Bay, which collects 40% of California’s watershed, the project focuses on water quality as a key indicator and measure of environmental health. Currents will help teachers overcome the challenges presented by state and emerging national standards for environmental education by grounding them in cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches to interactive, place-based, experiential learning.

Training will be aimed at grades 10-12 biology, chemistry and physics teachers who typically have little background in environmental science. With priority to teachers of economically marginalized students, the project will develop and implement summer institutes and weekend workshops for high school science teachers that use physics, chemistry, math, biology, earth science and the social sciences to explore human impact on the natural environment. Half of the teachers participating in summer institutes will be selected from schools across the US. Participating teachers will be expected to share their experiences at school and district levels. The project also will be disseminated at regional and national science conferences and online. Founded in 1969 as a center for interactive learning in science, the Exploratorium has been a leader in providing teachers with information and teaching tools.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT) - $150,000
Cambridge, MA  
To create a professional development program that prepares high school teachers to use digital games in the classroom.  Serious minded video games allow students to explore simulations of complex systems through trial and error at their own pace.  All work through this grant will address the national Common Core State Standards as MIT designs and tests interactive, online professional development materials.  While efforts will focus on literature, history, and civics – three subject areas that have been relatively underserved within the “games space” – MIT will develop materials that can be adapted readily to other disciplines, including science, technology, and mathematics. This two-year project targets teachers from two urban school systems in the Greater Boston area that serve large numbers of minority and low-income students.

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE – $200,000
Middlebury, VT
To establish the Language in Motion (LiM) program. Funding will support a new LiM program at Middlebury, an innovative, cooperative outreach program using study-abroad returnees, international students, and upper-level language students to assist local teachers.  Students create and present language and cultural activities in local high school classrooms.

Participating teachers are also provided professional development opportunities.  Middlebury’s plans include: an intensive, two-week summer immersion course that addresses current methodologies for second language instruction and best practices in blended (online + in-person) learning instruction; a semester-length course on second language acquisition and educational technology; and a Language & Culture Teaching Institute led by Middlebury faculty.  Further professional development ideas are being discussed with local teachers to ensure that LiM programming will best suit their needs.  

Founded by Juniata College with funding from the Foundations, LiM has grown into a 14-member national consortium.  In joining the Consortium through the establishment of its own program, Middlebury will also contribute its strong expertise in foreign languages to the other members.

PIVOT LEARNING PARTNERS – $200,000  
San Francisco, CA
To test and refine a teacher leader model that assists underserved high schools with the adoption of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Building upon a Foundations’ grant in 2008 that developed a model for teacher leadership training, Pivot will blend this approach into an effective method for high schools from two mid-sized California districts to learn to adopt the CCSS.  Teachers would be trained to collaborate in ways to incorporate different kinds of reading, writing and thinking tasks into the current curriculum and how to make these skills accessible to all learners, including English learners.

Once created, evaluated and refined, Pivot will begin expanding the program to their growing number of partner districts.  Founded in 1995 through the Annenberg Challenge and assisting mostly underserved districts, Pivot Learning Partners now have partnerships with 70 school districts serving nearly 2 million students.

THE NATIONAL HUMANITIES CENTER - $150,000
Research Triangle Park, NC
To create online professional development seminars and teaching materials that support the Common Core State Standards.  This grant will enable the Center to expand, enhance, refine and promote its impressive America in Class® lessons and interactive, online professional development seminars.  It is suited to help schools and districts meet the Common Core’s emphasis on more sophisticated literacy, which calls for a significant increase in the complexity of texts used in all subjects, and is proving to be one of the more difficult elements of the new standards for teachers to implement.   Whenever possible, the Center will emphasize support for teachers in urban schools.  

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE - $100,000
Newark, DE
For teacher professional development seminars.  The Delaware Teachers Institute is the most recent addition to Yale University’s League of Teachers Institutes.  This partnership between the University of Delaware and five public school districts operates as an autonomous unit of the University.  From its beginning in 1978, Yale-New Haven has sought to strengthen teaching and learning in high need urban schools.  The approach assumes that urban public school teachers, treated as colleagues throughout the process, can engage in serious study and devise appropriate and effective curricula.  

At the program’s core is a series of seminars on subjects in the humanities and sciences that are suggested by teachers.  Delaware faculty contribute subject knowledge, while teachers contribute their expertise in pedagogy, understanding of their students, and grasp of what works in the classroom.  With guidance from the professor, each teacher writes a curriculum unit to be used in their own classroom and shared with others throughout the YNH network.  Past seminars have included: Islamic Thought and Culture; The American West as Place, Process, and Story; Modeling with Mathematics; Environments and Cultures in Conflict; and The Idea of Liberty in American History.

WILLAMETTE UNIVERSITY - $200,000
Salem, OR
To establish Language in Motion (LiM) Northwest for high school language teachers. Willamette University, Linfield College, Pacific University and Lewis & Clark College will establish Language in Motion (LiM) Northwest. LiM is an innovative, cooperative outreach program using study-abroad returnees, international students, and upper-level language students to aid local teachers by creating and presenting language and cultural activities in their classrooms. Language teachers also benefit from professional development activities at and/or through their partnering college or university. This grant will establish a Northwest branch of the consortium by solidifying the program at Willamette and providing seed funding for LiM programs at Lewis & Clark, Pacific and Linfield. The intent is for the programs to work together while still emphasizing their particular strengths.

Originally founded by Juniata College in Pennsylvania, Foundations’ support for LiM’s growth and development has led to the concurrent development of a growing, 12-member national consortium. Willamette was an early member. As the program has become increasingly effective and popular with students and local teachers, the University sought to broaden its reach in Oregon. It is considered particularly important since much of the funding for multicultural education at the high school level has been cut from school budgets.

ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF SAN DIEGO - $200,000
San Diego, CA
For further development of the Conservation Biology Summer Workshops (CBSWs). Begun with help from a 2008 Foundations grant, the CBSWs provide high school science teachers with an innovative professional development program that strengthens teaching through hands-on, lab- and field-based research experiences at the Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. The program equips teachers with the knowledge and tools in the fields of ecology, conservation, genetics, and molecular biology. The intensive, on-site workshops: offer teachers new expertise and materials that enhance student learning; grant access to a conservation research curriculum; provide opportunities to bring true science challenges to their classrooms; and, connect teachers with conservation researchers and each other to remain current in these evolving fields.

This grant will support the participation of high school teachers in the CBSWs over the next three years, with special emphasis on low-income schools across the United States. Funding will also help further develop and refine the program by: creating a new online networking forum for current and past participants; developing Conservation Science Genetics Kits that will be pilot tested in classrooms; and conducting a multi-year program evaluation. Results will be shared with museums, zoos, aquariums, and other educational organizations throughout the United States.

Established in 1972, the San Diego Wild Animal Park is an 1,800-acre wildlife sanctuary that breeds herds of rare and endangered species and provides public viewing of animals in natural habitats and serves as a major source of wildlife education for the public. It also houses the Center for Conservation Research, which is the largest such zoo-based facility in the world, focusing on conservation and research of endangered species.
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY - $199,650
Syracuse, NY
Simulated Interactions for Pre-Service High School Teachers

In cooperation with SUNY Upstate Medical University, the Syracuse School of Education designed live Simulated Interaction Models (SIM) that help secondary education student teachers transition to classroom practice. Nearly all medical schools employ SIMs to develop future doctors’ diagnostic and treatment skills.  Since 2007, with support from the Spencer Foundation, the School of Education developed and has used live SIMs successfully.  Prospective teachers deal with trained individuals acting out predetermined questions, concerns or issues.  Video of each simulation captures the live interactions between each unscripted pre-service teacher and the carefully scripted actor.  Professors guide careful analysis and reflection of the different approaches to the same simulation.

To date, 13 simulations, addressing general school issues (e.g. misbehavior, bullying, emotional concerns, substance abuse, cheating, etc.) have been developed.  This grant will enable Syracuse to develop subject specific SIMs.  Twenty-one different high school level simulations for English, Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, Art, Music, and Physical Education – three per subject – will be developed.  Syracuse will then seek to facilitate partnerships with an additional five institutions in New York State who have expressed interest in adopting this model for training.  

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE - $200,000
Middlebury, VT
Expansion and Upgrades for a Proven Support Network

The Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN) was established in 1993 to provide ongoing professional development during the school year for public school teachers from under-resourced rural and urban schools attending the Bread Loaf School of English summer graduate program. This grant will assist Bread Loaf in recruiting efforts to help expand BLTN participation to some 50% of the Bread Loaf teacher population.  Funding will also support a comprehensive review and the necessary upgrades that will enable the BLTN to take full advantage of new and emerging sets of social networking and digital tools.  

An upgraded technological infrastructure for the Network will improve the BLTN’s capacity to serve teachers throughout the school year.  It will also improve teachers’ ability to integrate technology into their teaching.  

WOFFORD COLLEGE - $200,000
Spartanburg, SC
A New College-District Partnership

Due to increasing concerns for its local school districts, Wofford went to school leaders and asked, simply, “How can we help you?”  The end result, after working “creatively and collaboratively” is a new team-based approach that assists Spartanburg area high school teachers in learning new content and related teaching strategies that reflect current research across various academic disciplines.

Wofford will work directly with a cadre of high school teachers over the proposed grant period.  Groups from each discipline within a school will identify their needs.  Project leaders will then identify Wofford faculty and students whose interests align with the teachers to form teams. Each group will meet to clarify and articulate research ideas.  Faculty-student research projects will ensue.  Afterwards, the full teams will develop related curricular materials and identify effective methods for teaching them.  Classroom visits will occur regularly to help advance lesson development as well as use of the lesson plans and teaching techniques.  Each team will finish by co-leading faculty development workshops for the remaining high school teachers in the participating districts. Evaluation will take place throughout the project period and, if successful, future funding would come from both the Spartanburg County school districts and Wofford.  The College is also committed to sharing this model with others.

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - $200,000
Philadelphia, PA
Genomics curriculum development and training for teachers.

Support will establish The Penn Genome Frontiers Institute (PGFI) High School Educator Program.  Funding will cover start-up costs for the project.  The first phase will complete a genomics curriculum, aligned with state and national standards, that provides a cohesive unit blending genomics concepts with wet- and dry-lab activities.  The PGFI will then pilot test an intensive summer workshop for teachers recruited from the Philadelphia School District.  Feedback will allow for further refinement of the curriculum and workshop.  During the school year, PGFI will provide assistance to the participating teachers, implement an equipment loaner program, and develop social media tools to sustain relationships and provide additional support. 

The final years of the four-year grant will see the PGFI serve Philadelphia high school teachers, further evaluate the program’s effectiveness, and make adjustments as required.  The curriculum, workshop model and evaluation results will be available to anyone interested in using them or starting a similar program.  Genomics will play an increasingly important role in our society, requiring students and their teachers to have a basic understanding of the genome sciences and related technologies.  The PGFI is an interdisciplinary, university-wide entity dedicated to the advancement of the interdisciplinary field of genomics research.

INSTITUTE FOR SYSTEMS BIOLOGY (ISB) - $199,914
Seattle, WA
Expansion of a proven professional development program from middle school to high school.

Funding will support the expansion of ISB’s successful Observing for Evidence of Learning Professional Development (OEL PD) program from middle schools to high schools.  ISB found that after a few years of employing standards-based curricula, the novelty wears off for teachers and instructional challenges become more apparent.  In response to this “implementation plateau,” OEL PD helps science teachers remain engaged in a continuous process of personal and professional improvement. 

OEL PD consists of on-site professional development during the school year for all science teachers in a high school.  Led by a trained facilitator who partners with a scientist or content expert, OEL PD includes: collaborative lesson development; classroom observation; individual reflection; team debriefing; generalization to practice; and implementation in the classroom.  Due to the greater depth required for high school science teachers, new training materials will be developed.  Grant funds will also support implementation in the five Tacoma high schools.  All Tacoma Public Schools’ science teachers in grades 9-12 will benefit. 

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary and committed to confronting societal problems in human health and environmental sustainability, ISB is a non-profit research institute dedicated to the study and application of systems biology.  The Institute is a pioneer in cross-disciplinary, integrative research and takes a “big science approach” that is “holistic rather than atomistic.”  

WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION - $199,285
Boston, MA
To develop and evaluate multi-media resources for secondary education math teachers.

WGBH will develop a series of videos to help high school math teachers understand and use best practices aligned with the new Common Core national standards, which will require students to think and reason mathematically and apply mathematical ways of assessing real world issues and challenges.  The video collection will be appropriate for both teacher preparation and in-service teachers. 

The initial pilot project will develop fourteen teaching videos.  These will include videos based on a teacher discussion circle in which participants work through ideas that highlight relevant strategies and skills in teaching mathematical argumentation as well as those that allow viewers to see best practices in action where students and teachers explore mathematical reasoning in the classroom environment.  There will also be an overview video and one on teaching mathematical argumentation in the English Language Learner classroom. 

After an external evaluation, all videos as well as contextual essays and related resources will be made available as part of the PBS Learning Media Collection.  This free digital education service has been developed by PBS and WGBH to support curriculum-based teaching and learning from pre-K through college.

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY - $200,000
New York, NY
To create an innovative model of professional development for high school science teachers.

In collaboration with the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, funding will allow the American Museum of Natural History to develop a new "blended" approach that combines the strengths of online and face-to-face learning. The two-year pilot project will focus first on developing and implementing a graduate course for secondary teachers designed to strengthen their understanding of brain science and related classroom practices. The nine-week professional development experience that ensues will provide both content and pedagogy. Participants from across the country will be expected to become a networked learning community, sharing experiences and resources. A final assignment will require each teacher to design a standards-based curriculum unit and share it with other teachers. The model will be designed to be applicable in other disciplines.