At-risk North Texas youth and the middle schools they attend got a jumpstart this school year of more than $2 million in new grants from Communities Foundation of Texas designed to improve middle school education. Through the foundation’s community impact funds, eight grants are being awarded to seven local nonprofits that effectively increase the pool of quality teachers and administrators in at-risk middle schools across North Texas.
The population of at-risk middle school youth in the Dallas area is approximately 75,000 students (roughly 48% of the middle school population). “At-risk” youth are defined as those more likely to: encounter difficulties in their academic, family, or social lives; engage in drug or alcohol abuse; leave home; and/or commit crimes and become incarcerated. Improvement in middle school achievement is the best predictor of college and career readiness in 11th and 12th graders.
“The grants announced today are allocated by our board of trustees to make a measurable improvement in education by investing in at-risk middle school youth,” says Brent Christopher, President and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT). “This entire community has so much riding on education. Our work as a foundation reflects that, with over one quarter of our foundation’s total annual grants made in education -- from the Educate Texas program at CFT, the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at CFT, donor-advised funds, and now our community impact funds.”
Grant applications were evaluated based on program design, evidence of program effectiveness, nonprofit track record, collaborative partnerships, and ability to measure impact. Site visits were conducted with all finalists.
· Teaching Trust -- $500,000 paid over two years for Aspiring Principals, a two-year Masters-level program including a “clinical residency” where participants remain in a leadership role in a designated Dallas ISD school for five years. A separate grant of $250,000 for their Professional Development Institute provides a high-impact, multi-phase workshop series for existing principals and school leadership teams from Dallas ISD and Uplift Education.
· University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) -- $500,000 paid over three years for the UTeach Dallasprogram that actively recruits UTD’s STEM majors to consider a career in teaching in high-need, urban middle school math and science classrooms. Graduates are placed in teaching positions and receive ongoing training and support in the partner districts of Richardson, Garland, Carrollton-Farmers Branch and Dallas.
· Teach for America -- $350,000 paid over two years to implement an innovative Middle School Partnership Plan at Dallas ISD’s Ann Richards Middle School in Pleasant Grove (opening September 2012). The program will include comprehensive training and classroom tools for both TFA corps members and non-TFA teachers at the school.
· Big Thought -- $225,000 to create and implement the High Impact Learning Institute, a year-long professional development course for Dallas ISD teachers and community educators to improve how material is introduced, presented, applied and evaluated across 38 DISD campuses.
· Plano ISD Education Foundation -- $144,070 for intensive professional development for 6th grade teachers in Plano’s three highest-need Title I middle schools, closing the gap of similar training provided to the district’s feeder elementary schools and 7th and 8th grade teachers.
· National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation -- $27,830 to adapt and enhance their Micro-Messaging to Reach and Teach Every Student program to serve the unique needs of middle school teachers. Their current highly successful high school program is in place in Dallas, Richardson and Plano, and is modeled after the Women of Texas Instruments’ gender-equity STEM program.
· KIPP DFW -- $19,000 to research and develop a teacher residency program and professional development school intended to prepare and retain a pipeline of highly qualified urban teachers in partnership with SMU’s Simmons School of Education.
Anyone can make a donation or get more information at https://www.cftexas.org/netcommunity/sslpage.aspx?pid=1050.
ABOUT COMMUNITIES FOUNDATION OF TEXAS
As the largest community foundation in Texas and one of the largest in the nation, Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) works with families, companies and nonprofits to strengthen our community through a variety of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking initiatives. The foundation professionally manages nearly 900 charitable funds and has awarded over $1.2 billion in grants since its founding in 1953. Improving graduation rates by focusing on at-risk middle school teacher and leader effectiveness is one of the two key focus areas of CFT’s community impact funds.