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
Jackson Laboratory – $100,000
Bar Harbor, ME
To support Teaching the Genome Generation. The program will bring teachers from urban, rural, and suburban schools together for genomics, bioinformatics and bioethics training, leveraging the Laboratory’s expertise for the broader benefit of STEM education and creating enduring relationships with individual educators, cohorts of teachers, students, and schools. Pedagogical instruction, informed by a partnership with Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genetics Education Program, will enable participants to integrate genomics and ethics content in their classrooms and laboratories, connecting high school students with 21st century concepts that have emerged since the sequencing of the human genome.

Metairie Park Country Day School– $75,000
Metairie, LA
A grant to expand access to the Mathematical Sciences Institute (MSI). Since its inception in 2005, 364 educators from 20 states and 5 foreign countries have participated in the MSI. Held on the campus of Tulane University, the Institute convenes nationally and internationally renowned faculty members who offer 20 courses that inspire participants to challenge themselves to teach math differently. Additionally, the Institute has short sharing and collaborative sessions so teams of teachers can deeply immerse themselves in curricular content and build relationships with fellow participants. The grant will provide for 30 additional teachers each year from public charter schools to attend the MSI for the next three years. 

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory – $196,793
Cambridge, MA
To support ExoLab, the Laboratory for the Study of Exoplanets. The grant will be used to develop, test and disseminate a professional development model for high school teachers of physics, astronomy, and earth science. ExoLab is a unique online learning environment that engages students and teachers in one of the great scientific adventures of our time: the search for habitable worlds orbiting stars outside our solar system. ExoLab gives classrooms access to SAO’s MicroObservatory robotic telescopes to explore dozens of known or suspected exoplanets. The project will help teachers engage their students in an authentic scientific research experience that is exemplary for integrating three dimensions of learning – science practice, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary ideas, as called for the by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

WGBH/PBS Learning Media – $100,000
Boston, MA
A grant to support Keep Going!, a curriculum for perseverance in mathematics. WGBH Education and PBS LearningMedia will produce and disseminate a collection of professional development videos to address a challenge facing high school math teachers and students today: “making sense of problems and persevering in solving them,” Common Core Mathematics Practice Standard #1. Targeted to high school math teachers, this collection of videos and supporting materials will model for educators how to help their students develop habits of perseverance in solving mathematical challenges and learning new concepts. Additional resources will include teaching tips and extensive background materials that can help teachers understand and evaluate students’ progress towards a persistence mindset while also helping educators reflect on their own ability to foster this pattern of thinking. This collection will be hosted by PBS LearningMedia.

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.

Annapolis, MD
To provide standards-based training in environmental literacy for high school teachers. 

San Francisco, CA
Development of a nationwide educational technology certification program.
Grant support will enable Common Sense Media’s development and testing of an educational technology certification program for high-school teachers across the country.  The program will offer a tiered online training certification for both pre-service and in-service teachers on effectively integrating technology into their teaching.   The course will include eight to ten modules, each consisting of approximately ten hours of instruction.   
Modules to be developed will include:
Strategies to Survive the Digital Shift:  This foundational module will explore the possibilities, challenges and importance of technology integration in 21st century learning.
Digital Citizenship - A Whole Community Approach: Teachers will learn how to teach students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in the digital world.
Applying Frameworks for Technology Integration: This module will address different frameworks to apply when integrating technology into teaching.
Rethinking Lesson Design: Teachers will learn how to most effectively design lesson plans that meaningfully integrate technology.

Each module will incorporate explanations, videos, authentic case studies, and assignments for teachers to complete.

Common Sense Media is a national leader in educational technology.  This grant is expected to play a critical role in advancing the “digital shift” in high school classrooms and be replicable for the elementary and middle school levels.

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, 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)

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.

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.

SOLAR ONE - $150,000
New York, NY
Professional development for an urban environmental education curriculum.
Solar One has become a leading environmental and sustainability education organization with a professional development program to increase STEM knowledge and improve teaching among New York City teachers.  CleanTech is Solar One’s innovative, multidisciplinary, high school level curriculum, created with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.  Designed for urban areas with lessons focused on the local environment, it aims to increase teacher and student knowledge of the rapidly evolving fields of energy, material science, water and food. Complete with hands-on activities and student-led investigations, each CleanTech curricular unit contains concepts that support science, technology, engineering and math skills with an emphasis on problem-solving, design innovation and pathways for career exploration.

This grant will allow Solar One to deepen its efforts in New York City and expand its professional development programming to serve urban high school teachers in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York State.  Another key element of the grant will be to build the infrastructure and content of the Sustainable Schools Network, an alternative delivery system that can give teachers from across the country access to the CleanTech curriculum as well as all related training and support.  

Charlottesville, VA
Monticello Teacher Institute.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation hosts a premier teacher professional development program for secondary history and civics teachers in America.  The purpose of the program is to increase content knowledge of American history while engaging “teachers in a dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas and ideals.”  The Institute takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia at Monticello, Jefferson’s home.  Each year, teachers from high schools across the nation attend. The development of lesson plans for sharing nationally is a requirement of all who participate.  

This grant will allow the Institute to add teachers from under-represented and under-resourced districts.  It will also support the development of rigorous methodologies to evaluate teacher and student learning, which will be shared with other non-traditional settings that provide professional development for teachers (e.g., museums, nature parks, etc.)

Chicago, IL
To establish a STEM related urban teacher leadership program. 

Charlottesville, VA
Expansion of a secondary teaching fellows program in liberal arts & sciences.

A past grant recipient, the University of Virginia’s Center for the Liberal Arts is a nationally recognized program for content oriented professional development for high school teachers.  Workshops are led by senior university faculty from a wide variety of disciplines, including math, biology, religion, history, English, Spanish and classics.

This will expand the Center’s work due to high demand from teachers and school systems to seven partner institutions (University of Richmond, Washington and Lee, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Howard University, Virginia State University, George Washington and George Mason).  Each institution will partner with a senior member of the faculty from University of Virginia to establish a Center for the Liberal Arts Teacher Development Program on their own campus.  In addition, data collection will inform how to improve the effectiveness of teachers, allowing subsequent research from graduate students at each institution.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.