November 23, 20200

College Spark awards $600,000 through its Outcomes Acceleration Fund to organizations working to address barriers to equitable education

By Thai Craig

Franklin Pierce School District, Pierce College, Innovia Foundation, and Puget Sound Educational Service District each received $150,000 grant to transform education systems.

Recent social unrest and increased attention to longstanding systemic racism has created a call-to-action for many schools and organizations nationwide. Franklin Pierce School District will use grant funding to develop and implement a district equity plan that includes a policy audit and revision, antiracist leadership development, culturally relevant teaching improvements, and restorative justice. “This is a more ambitious and comprehensive race and equity proposal than we have had the opportunity to fund in the past, and it comes at a time that calls for broad and deep work focused on reducing racist policies, practices, and outcomes in school districts,” said Dr. Warren Brown, Executive Director at College Spark.

“While the pandemic has introduced challenges and chaos to education, it has also opened an opportunity to reimagine schooling practices...”
Rachel Clements

Pierce College has implemented a successful and scaled corequisite math model. In order to improve the effectiveness of this reform, Pierce will use grant funding to engage in a process of identifying and dismantling existing barriers for marginalized students in placement practices and in existing student supports.

Innovia Foundation will use grant funding for research and evaluation focused on analyzing data to develop improved metrics that are more grounded in the experiences and needs of local students. Innovia serves as the backbone organization for a collective impact project to promote postsecondary enrollment for rural students in Eastern Washington. The research will allow stakeholders to plan activities based on local data about school conditions, practices, and supports that have the best evidence of promoting direct postsecondary enrollment for rural Washington students, rather than relying only on national data or research that does not have a focus on rural communities.

Puget Sound Educational Service District will use grant funds to support the research and evaluation of indicators of engagement that are more meaningful than seat time to inform the strategic design decisions being made by the Attendance and Engagement Network. The goal is for these indicators of engagement to be both meaningful and relevant to the communities of color they serve and actionable for the schools to use in attendance improvement efforts.

“Attendance has never offered a full measure of student engagement, and during school closures due to COVID-19, has made traditional measures of attendance rather meaningless,” said Rachel Clements, Program Officer at College Spark. “While the pandemic has introduced challenges and chaos to education, it has also opened an opportunity to reimagine schooling practices and develop more accurate measures of student engagement and success.”

Image credit: Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

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