Early College East of the River: A Partnership with Bard College

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There is a fundamental misalignment between secondary and postsecondary education that exists across all major urban school systems. How is Ed Fund supporting to bridge that gap? Through more early college options and new pathways to college for our students. The Ed Fund is incredibly proud to seed the start-up for Bard High School Early College, which will open East of the River in SY19-20!

The early college high school will operate jointly between Bard College and DCPS. Students will earn a high school diploma, as well as 60 college credits resulting in an Associate’s degree upon graduation – all at no cost to our students. And unlike most other selective high schools, Bard’s admissions process will be based on determination, leadership, and qualities that demonstrate persistence through an essay and an interview. Bard will be the first selective option East of the River, ultimately moving DCPS closer to its goal of doubling the number of college and career ready students by 2022.

DC Reading Clinic: Where Teachers and Students Grow Together

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“Seeing the auditorium filled at Standing Ovation with so many teachers was inspiring; there are superhero teachers all through DC, and they deserve the best so that they can give their students the best.”—Mary Clayman, former Rubenstein winner and founder of the DC Reading Clinic

Mary Clayman, former Standing Ovation Rubenstein winner, saw the promise of the DC Reading Clinic (DCRC) while teaching at Eaton ES in Ward 3. Together with DCPS, the DCRC creates a system where struggling readers in grades K-2 can experience the joy of mastering reading, while allowing DCPS teachers to earn graduate credit in reading remediation. In the first cohort, approximately 100 teachers from 40 schools in every Ward applied for 12 slots. The added beauty of DCRC will be its multiplier effect which eventually will impact and lift up hundreds of struggling readers in its first year.

Thanks to the support of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, DCRC will launch its first cohort of students and teachers in January 2019. In the next several years, the DC Reading Clinic will train and mentor hundreds of teachers, creating a natural pipeline of literacy talent within DCPS. These highly-trained structured experts, unified in vision and mission, will impact thousands of students—enough to lift the reading trajectory of an entire system.

Design Lab: Thinking and Working in the Future

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Recognizing stark opportunity gaps and the chance to empower school communities as the leaders of change, the DCPS Design Lab launched in March 2018 as an incubator that provides school communities with the support, time, and resources they need to boldly redesign their schools. By empowering those closest to the school experience, it positions communities to remove barriers for students and accelerate transformation.

Driven by this belief, the Design Lab was born to provide a cohort-based experience to fundamentally redesign schools to eliminate the opportunity gap. Fellows develop skills in human-centered design, gain exposure to innovative practices, and explore equityXdesign principles to pilot and test ideas of the future, with the goal of scaling the most impactful elements. Some have described the Design Lab as DCPS’ own start-up lab, generating what could be the next biggest invention for schools!

Standing Ovation 2018 Launches Dreams

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Standing Ovation for DC Public Schools, acclaimed as the nation’s premiere award ceremony for educators, shines a spotlight on DCPS talent and elevates the profession to a new level. In 2018, Ed Fund moved the celebration to the Anthem on the Wharf, and together with 3,000 guests – including Tim Gunn, and Wyclef-Jean – recognized DCPS’ unwavering commitment to kids. Now in its 9th year, DC Ed Fund caught up with a few award-winners like Cynthia and Kareem, who have gone on to replicate, scale and even launch their own innovative programs for DCPS, all in pursuit of transforming student experiences throughout the district. Learn more about the 2018 winners here.

Cynthia Robinson-Rivers: Incubating Social Emotional Innovation At Van Ness ES

“Every school should provide children with a learning environment where they feel safe and loved, build the socio-emotional skills they need, and engage in rigorous learning that stimulates their bodies as well as their minds. There’s a growing realization that this is important, but we’re behind the curve as a nation in figuring out how to do it.”—Principal Cynthia Robinson-Rivers.

When we think of magical places on Earth where kids are thriving, laughing, growing, and learning, Van Ness ES is an undeniable proof point of what happens when a learning environment seamlessly marries rigorous academics with socio-emotional and physical learning needs. Their model won the Standing Ovation Award for Innovation in 2018, and since then, Van Ness has shared their approach with hundreds of schools that serve high numbers of students who have experienced trauma.

This powerful student-centered approach is in huge demand, and this year, in partnership with Transcend – a national nonprofit dedicated to accelerating innovation in the core design of schools – Van Ness is launching the first phase of sharing across the city. Starting in 2019, they will support surrounding schools to adopt their socio-emotional learning model with the goal of scaling and reaching over 15,000 students locally and nationally in the next five years.

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Kareem Farah: Redesigning the Learning Experience

What happens when you allow students to master new skills at their own pace? For Kareem Farah – a 2018 Standing Ovation winner and a Probability & Statistics and IB Mathematics teacher at Eastern HS– it helped launch the Modern Classrooms Project, a nonprofit that now runs a yearly fellowship program that equips and empowers educators to build self-paced and mastery-based classrooms. Simply put, this model – under Kareem’s guidance – is redesigning student learning experiences so that all students, regardless of background, can get excited about learning. DC Ed Fund is proud and honored to have helped launch Kareem’s journey in driving excellence through innovation.

2018 DC Ed Fund Donor Spotlight: W. K. Kellogg Foundation

“Use the money as you please, so long as it promotes the health, happiness, and well-being of children.” The motivation behind W.K. Kellogg’s work centers around this quote from Mr. Kellogg’s legacy, and equity drives each investment the Foundation makes in DCPS. First with the Leading Men Fellowship, and now with the DC Reading Clinic. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation believes reading on-level by third grade is crucial for students’ success. It also understands the critical need to support educators tasked with that responsibility.

“To have two partners, DCPS and DC Ed Fund, be truly committed to ensuring that students and families are successful, is one of the most important things that drove Kellogg to work with Ed Fund.”—Frank L. Gettridge, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

To learn more about supporting DC Ed Fund, please contact Zoe Lewis.