Boston – The Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Pozen Prize for School Innovation. The $80,000 award is given annually to recognize schools that consistently boost students’ achievements through innovative models, programs and practices. Boston Community Leadership Academy was selected as runner-up, receiving a $10,000 prize.
First awarded in 2014, the Pozen Prize highlights pilot, innovation, Horace Mann and Commonwealth charter schools that are finding innovative ways to connect with students and help them succeed. Past winners include Boston Preparatory Public Charter School (2014), Brooke Charter School Roslindale (2015), Match Charter Public High School (2016) and Somerville’s Winter Hill Community Innovation School (2017).
“We are pleased today to recognize the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers as the latest winner of the Pozen Prize,” said Robert Pozen, who created the prize with his wife, Elizabeth. “Kennedy Academy has leveraged its Horace Mann charter autonomies to build a long-standing reputation as a place of high academic achievement for students from all backgrounds. The school offers its students both a powerful alternative to traditional vocational programs and the academic rigor for college preparation, helping to ensure all students are ready to succeed in their chosen next steps after graduation.”
Kennedy Academy makes career and college preparation a focus throughout a student’s entire career, with weekly seminars on college and career, a robust system to ensure students explore and understand career pathways, and support throughout the college application process. The school also offers a unique program making it possible for students to earn their Certified Nursing Assistant certification at EMK alongside their college prep work, making it possible for students to have a work opportunity that can help pay their college tuition.
“Kennedy Academy demonstrates the power that school-based autonomy can have in shaping a school that serves both its students and its faculty well,” added Paul Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, who noted more than half the teachers at Kennedy Academy have more than a decade of experience. “The school has created a unique atmosphere that inspires success and makes it possible for students to thrive.”
“This is my eighteenth year at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers,” said Caren Walker Gregory, the Headmaster at Kennedy Academy. “As the Headmaster of the school, I can honestly say that I would send my own children to my own school. Kennedy Academy staff enjoy working with young people and are very passionate about their content area. They are extremely enthusiastic about teaching and learning.”
Kennedy Academy has also worked to broaden its ability to serve all students, expanding its special education staffing and programs, and providing opportunities for students at all levels to access high-level coursework, including AP courses. The school has worked with faculty, who are members of the Boston Teachers Union, to extend the school day and professional development activities, and Kennedy Academy has been able to increase graduation rates and reduce dropout, suspension, and churn rates to exceed the district averages across all metrics.
Serving a student body that is over 90% African-American and Hispanic/Latino, and with 75% considered “high needs,” the school reported sending 99% of its graduates to two- or four-year colleges, with 73% of the Class of 2017 attending four-year schools. Just over half of graduates pursue health-related college majors.
The Pozen Prize was created by Boston Foundation donors Robert and Elizabeth Pozen. Robert is a former top executive of Fidelity Investments and MFS Investment Management, who now serves as a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Elizabeth is a retired psychotherapist who is now focusing on her career as a figurative artist.
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, brings people and resources together to solve Boston’s big problems. Established in 1915, it is one of the largest community foundations in the nation—with net assets of $1.1 billion. In 2017, the Foundation and its donors paid $135 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation is a close partner in philanthropy with its donors, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. It 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), a distinct 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.