CityBridge Foundation is Catalyzing Local Innovation in D.C.

Margaret Angell and her colleagues at the CityBridge Foundation are leading some really great work in support of personalized learning in D.C. Their dual focus on teachers and more recently on school design (with support from NGLC’s Breakthrough Models Regional Fund) is a really useful one-two combination that I believe will yield tremendous innovation at multiple levels in the coming years. They also deserve kudos for working across the district and charter sectors, and creating opportunities to bring educators from both together.

Learn more in Angell’s blog post – Promising Practices in Blended Learning and Innovation in School Design


New Resource: RETHINK – A Planning & Design Toolkit for Next Gen Learning

Apparently today is the day for sharing resources to help schools and systems stand on the shoulders of giants who are paving the way forward for next gen learning. iNACOL and Next Gen Learning Challenges (NGLC) paired up to produce a toolkit called RETHINK: Planning and Design for K-12 Next Gen Learning. This detailed resource was informed by the on-the-ground experiences of the most thoughtful school operators around today. For additional context, NGLC’s Knowledge Management Officer, Kristen Vogt, published a blog post on introducing the tool.

Between RETHINK and Aspire’s Blended Learning Toolkit that I posted earlier today, people interested in implementing personalized/blended learning in a K-12 setting should have enough reading material to keep them busy for a few days.

For a compilation of more resources like these, visit the Lots of Resources section of this blog.

NGLC Announces $12M for Breakthrough Schools: 30 Planning & 20 Launch Grants

The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) announced $12M in grant funding for 30 planning grants and 20 launch grants to support “Breakthrough Schools.” The focus is on secondary schools (grades 6-12) that are focused on personalized learning in order to achieve aggressive outcomes: 1.5 years of growth annually and 80% college readiness rates. 

Given Wave IV’s focus on supporting School Developers, now is probably an appropriate time to link back to my post from a few days ago: Hardware is Not a Strategy (and Other Advice for School Developers: Part I).

Finally, if you’re interested in applying for a Wave IV grant, consider taking a look at the resources I’ve compiled on my “Lots of Resources” page.

NGLC Releases Profiles of Grantees (Breakthrough Models in K-12 & Higher Ed)

The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) just released a rich set of profiles of its grantees that includes 20 K-12 schools and 10 college models. Alongside the blogging site, NGLC is really stepping up its efforts to capture and share knowledge about its growing portfolio of innovative models.

2 Cool Jobs in K-12 Education Innovation

Two exciting initiatives that are at the cutting edge of education innovation – CEE-Trust and the Next Gen Learning Challenges – are both hiring. Perhaps I am biased because I know these organizations well and we fund them, but I think these are stellar career opportunities for smart, driven people who have a passion for education innovation and want to strike a balance between working at a national level on cutting-edge strategies and getting their hands dirty with on-the-ground implementations.

Job descriptions for these two positions are below. Please follow instructions embedded within these docs for next steps.


Next Gen Learning Challenges: Final Round of School Winners Announced

The Next Generation Learning Challenges, an initiative that we at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fund, recently announced the third and final round of winners for a challenge focused on launching innovative new schools. In total, the 20 winning schools, which were each designed to achieve “breakthrough results” toward college readiness for all students by leveraging blended instructional practices, represent a fascinating array of innovative instructional and operational approaches within both districts and charter networks.

The entire portfolio of winners will be included in a comprehensive, multi-year research and evaluation project, led by John Pane at the RAND Corporation, that will focus on a diverse, holistic array of indicators of effective schools. In keeping with the focus on personalized learning and proficiency-based pathways, the study will include not just measures of grade-level proficiency, but more importantly it will use multiple measures to calculate learning growth. Calculating learning growth is important because a fundamental premise behind personalized learning is to meet each student’s actual academic needs and accelerate her learning from that point as opposed to where her grade level indicates she “should be.” Furthermore, the study will also consider other skills that lead to college readiness such as non-cognitive skills. Finally, given the challenge’s focus on creating schools that are financially sustainable on public revenue, a separate study will take a close look at the financial models of these schools.

Below is a running list of national media coverage focused on this announcement: Relaunch

The practitioner-centric blended learning blogging site,, has been redesigned and relaunched. Kudos to the team at the Next Gen Learning Challenges (with support from others) for helping to drive this effort and to the first round of bloggers – Achievement First and Alpha Public Schools – for posting some fantastic, in-depth blog posts.

I’m looking forward to seeing activity on this site continue as these school networks and others capture and share their latest thinking on blended learning.