Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support Building 21’s goal of building  a nationwide network of secondary schools that effectively use data for continuous improvement

Building 21 has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the foundation’s Networks for School Improvement (NSI) portfolio. The NSI grants support groups of middle and high schools working together to identify and solve common problems to enable more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, to graduate from high school and achieve post-secondary success.

The $500,000 grant will assist Building 21 in improving its capacity to deliver key supports for its network of schools, including the use of data for continuous improvement and the strengthening of school leadership teams. Building 21 will tap into a network of high quality technical assistance providers to support these improvement efforts. These initiatives will be launched at three of our schools this Fall – Building 21 Allentown (Allentown, PA), Building 21 Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) and Kankakee High School (Kankakee, IL).

“Through this grant, we have a tremendous opportunity to invest in our own capacity to better serve the schools in our network, while also directly supporting their efforts to use data to improve student outcomes, build diversity, equity and inclusion into adult learning and development, codify instructional improvement practices, and curate and align high-quality content,” said Building 21 Co-Executive Director Dr. Chip Linehan. “We’re grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this support.”

“We are excited to be a part of this network for improvement, and look forward to continued collaboration with Building 21,” said Allentown School District Superintendent Thomas Parker.  “Continuous improvement is a key part of our strategic plan, and we are excited to join with other schools to share our work and to learn from others.”

“Innovative models that seek to better serve our high school students are a key part of our secondary school improvement strategy,” added Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “We are excited to participate in this network improvement work.”

“Kankakee School District is completely committed to redesigning the school system to promote economic development through a student-centered learning model, and our partnership with Building 21 is helping us realize this vision,” said Dr. Genevra A. Walters, Superintendent. “Participating in a network geared for shared learning and supports will only accelerate our efforts in this regard.”

Building 21 is one of 8 grantees in this round of the foundation’s NSI program. Grantees will work to develop the skills to effectively serve as intermediaries in bringing together groups of middle or high schools to use a continuous improvement process to significantly increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who earn a high school diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on track in their first year to earn a credential with labor-market value.

About Building 21: Building 21 is a nonprofit organization that is reimagining secondary schooling to meet the needs of all learners. Building 21 partners with school districts to design, launch and operate innovative schools. Our schools are afforded significant flexibility and autonomy by our district partners to pursue our vision for student and adult learning. We also work with schools and districts that are making the transition to competency-based education through our Affiliate Program. Our mission is to create a network approach to secondary and post-secondary learning for high school age youth that fundamentally reorients the system to place the learner at the center.