Boston – The Boston Foundation today announced a one-year, $100,000 grant to the Chelsea Education Foundation, Inc., for the Five District Partnership of the Chelsea Public Schools. The partnership was established in 2012 with a grant from the Commonwealth’s Department of Secondary and Elementary Education to improve instruction and academic achievement for the more than 28,000 public-school students in Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Malden and Winthrop.
These five communities on the outskirts of Boston are home to many low-income, immigrant families who are highly transient, often moving between districts in search of more affordable living arrangements—factors in the achievement gap between students of color and whites. In Chelsea, for example, 83.4 percent of the district’s approximately 6,000 students are low-income and 80 percent of them have a first language other than English. The Five District Partnership seeks to standardize curricula, establish yearlong lesson calendars to minimize the disruption that occurs when students move to a new district, and train teacher-leaders to educate their colleagues about best practices.
“We at the Boston Foundation believe passionately that a good education is the foundation of so much success in life, and we don’t think students’ national origin or family income should hold them back,” said President and CEO Paul S. Grogan. “These school districts have embarked on a remarkable collaboration that is already energizing teachers and helping their students.”
The Chelsea Education Foundation will use its grant to retain Teach Plus, which seeks to improve outcomes for urban students through teacher training, and Write Boston, which helps teachers use writing to enhance student learning. These two organizations will train teachers to provide professional development to their peers, improve writing across the content areas in alignment with the Common Core State Standards, and create high-quality “Understanding by Design” teacher resources that teachers can access via the Internet. Understanding by Design is a framework for curriculum development and lesson planning that helps teachers engineer their lessons for maximum learning.
“The Five District Partnership recognizes that we share many of our low-income students,” said Mary Bourque, Superintendent of the Chelsea Public Schools. “Our goal is to stabilize the educational experience. If you take a look at private or charter schools, when students change their residency, they don’t change their schools. We’re trying to have something as close to that as possible.”
Revere Superintendent Paul Dakin said school leaders were delighted to learn that “taking the strengths of each district and packaging them together has been more effective than we thought. It’s given our best and brightest the chance to connect to the other best and brightest.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who represents Revere and Winthrop, noted that “this type of regional collaboration is a powerful way to support families and help students achieve success. By forging sustainable connections, our communities will reach new academic heights. I thank the Boston Foundation and the committed Superintendents, school leaders, educators and parents.”
Cove Davis, who administers the Five District Partnership, noted that Write Boston will train science and social studies teachers how to more effectively integrate writing into their curricula, while Teach Plus will help the districts build their own internal capacity. About 200 teachers have been trained by the Partnership during the past year and a half.
“Teachers are already excited, but to have this kind of recognition from an outside source gives them real pride in what they’re doing,” Ms. Davis said about the Boston Foundation grant. “This grant is an outside validation of the work that we’ve been doing. It shines a light on our best practices of collaboration at every level within our district.”
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2014, the Foundation and its donors made more than $112 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of nearly $112 million. In celebration of its Centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation has launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, the only endowment fund focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston. The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.
The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.