Ford Foundation Supports ERS' Work on School Design

New grant will target how to improve use of extended time in the classroom

We are energized by and privileged to welcome the addition of a new funder to the efforts of ERS. The Ford Foundation has approved a one-year, $200,000 grant to support our school design work to help give urban children more and better time in school to ensure that they reach rigorous standards.

The Ford Foundation has been a driving force for expanded learning time in schools, and their work is one of the core reasons that this initiative has gained so much traction in recent years. But they know, and we know, that extra time alone won’t make a difference for kids. Districts need to revise their funding systems and reallocate funds to sustain expanded learning time. They also need to reorganize how they use people, time, and money within schools to ensure that every extra moment counts.

That’s where ERS comes in. In Cleveland, for example, we are supporting the implementation of their Student-Based Budgeting model, and providing in-depth training to principals and central office staff on how to define resource priorities, organize time, and group students to make the most of teacher expertise and meet individual student needs.

With the help of this grant we will build off of our work in Cleveland and other school districts to create, refine and widely share publications and tools, training materials, school resource-assessment tools and case studies to spread the impact of this work.

Ford’s support has also allowed us to add a new team member who is an expert in school design: Kate Carpenter Bernier. Kate was the founding principal at Match Community Day, a Boston charter school serving grades pre-K-4, where the student population is 85% ELL and 17% children with special needs. In 2013, 90% of third graders at the school earned proficient or advanced on the Math state assessment. In 2014, the same students showed great gains, particularly in English Language Arts, going from 53% in 2013 to 78% proficient or advanced on the 4th grade assessment.

“Working in a school is fantastic, as the opportunities to directly affect children's lives and outcomes come daily,” Kate said. “Now I'm very excited to have the opportunity to link field practice with the analysis and thinking ERS does to benefit districts and urban schools at scale.”

We can’t wait to get started.