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The Pozen Prize for Innovative Schools

An annual prize recognizing schools that consistently boost students’ achievement through innovative models, programs and practices

About the Prize

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.

Pozen Prize logo
Pozen Prize announcement
Pozen Prize co-founder Robert Pozen with administrators and teachers from 2019 Prize winner Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School.

2021 Pozen Prize Winner: Pioneer Charter School of Science II

Image from 2021 Pozen Prize online event
Pozen Prize co-founder Robert Pozen  (left) awards the 2021 prize to PCSS II 's Barish Icin .

Established as a Commonwealth Charter School in 2013, Pioneer Charter School of Science II (PCSS II) enrolls 370 students in grades 7-12, with a student body that is roughly 75% students of color (versus just over 30% for the Saugus Public Schools). Even during the pandemic, PCSS II has maintained exceptionally high attendance rates. PCSS II achieved a 100% graduation rate for its Class of 2020, with MCAS scores significantly above the state and city averages.  PCSS II was recently ranked #4 of all Massachusetts public high schools by U.S. News and World Report.

Ensuring academic success includes a focus on contemplating and exploring college opportunities as early as 8th grade, and that system of supports continues through the college application process. Seniors are also required to complete a capstone Senior Project, an independent service and research project on a social issue/topic of great personal significance.  Engaging with families and community members, long a hallmark of the school, has been even more critical during the pandemic. The school has regularly connected with parents and brought members of the community into the school virtually when physical connections have not been possible.

 

Recognizing Best Practices

Cover of Rennie center report
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School Autonomy in Action

Since 2018, the Boston Foundation and the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy have been developing and releasing case studies on the effective practices of the prior year's Pozen Prize winner. You can find the most recent case studies here.

Pozen Prize Honor Roll

Banneker Charter logo
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2019: Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School

The Banneker's rigorous STEM curriculum, built on high expectations and student supports, is interwoven with a rich student program called “The Banneker Experience."

Read the prize announcement
Kennedy Academy logo
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2018: Edward Kennedy Academy for Health Careers

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.

Read the prize announcement
Winter Hill Innovation School
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2017:  Winter Hill Innovation School

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
match education
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2016: Match High School

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
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2015:  Brooke Charter Schools

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
boston prep logo
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2014: Boston Preparatory Charter School

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