The Pozen Prize for Innovative Schools was created by Boston Foundation donors Robert and Elizabeth Pozen to recognize schools that consistently boost students’ achievements through innovative models, programs and practices.
Each year, a subset of Greater Boston autonomous schools -- pilot, innovation, Horace Mann and Commonwealth Charter schools -- that meet a set of quantitative standards for student performance are invited to apply for a prize of up to $75,000. Applications are reviewed by a panel, and finalists are given the opportunity to host a visiting team to demonstrate their innovative practices. Each May, the prize is awarded at the Boston Foundation, with a runner-up chosen to receive $10,000. In addition, the winner and runner-up are highlighted in publications and blog posts designed to catalog some of the remarkable innovations going on in schools across Massachusetts.
Located in Cambridge, Mass., the Benjamin Banneker Public Charter School attracts students from across Eastern Massachusetts who are drawn to the school's rigorous STEM curriculum, built on high expectations and student supports is interwoven with a rich student program called “The Banneker Experience,” that includes attending art performances, visiting museums, enjoying outdoor sports such as skiing and camping, and participating in school community service.
The curriculum is regularly reviewed and designed to be agile to better support the varied and unique needs of students and the rich mix of teacher strengths and instructional styles. Serving a student body that is over 95% African-American and Hispanic/Latino, and with 77% considered “high needs” (versus 47% for the Cambridge school district), the Banneker features higher attendance rates, lower rates of chronically absent students and lower churn rates than the surrounding district. At the same time, Banneker’s students achieve high test scores in both math and English – substantially higher than the average test scores in the city school district.
Beginning in 2018, the Boston Foundation and the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy have developed and released a case study on the effective practices of the prior year's Pozen Prize winner. The 2017 report looked at how the Winter Hill Community Innovation School in Somerville and the Paul Revere Innovation School in Revere underwent rapid school improvement by supporting students’ social, emotional, and intellectual needs, using school-based decision-making to accelerate student learning.
The 2018 Pozen Prize for Innovative Schools winner, the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, leverages its status as a Horace Mann Charter School within the Boston Public Schools to create a powerful and effective alternative to traditional vocational programs. EMK couples career and college preparation throughout student's 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.
Winter Hill has modeled a number of innovations that have since spread to other Somerville schools, including inclusionary practices for students with autism, school-wide use of Responsive Classroom, and the incorporation of school climate surveys in school improvement plans.Read the prize announcement
Part of the Match Charter Public School in Boston, Match combines a supportive culture and academic rigor to drive successful outcomes for its diverse student body.Read the prize announcement
The first year of the Pozen Prize focused on high schools, and Boston Prep in Hyde Park captured the prize for its quantitative success and innovative support model that supports students in middle school, high school and even after graduation into college.Read the prize announcement
Widely recognized for its stellar academic performance, the Brooke schools were recognized for using their autonomy to create positive learning environments that set students up for excellence in high school and beyond.Read the prize announcement