Oct. 2, 2019
This week, I joined several of our high school principals, including Principal Jamie Lofaro, at CEC Early College to share the wonderful news that the Denver Public Schools Foundation was awarded a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve how we prepare and support African-American, Latinx and low-income learners for success in high school, college and career. We have made great strides in our work to prepare more students for college and career success. But we’re still not doing enough to make sure that growth benefits all students with the same impact. With this grant, DPS will have the chance to explore the root causes of these opportunity gaps, and discover new ways to lift all of our students toward the future they see ahead for themselves after graduation.
The best ideas for how to tailor support for students most often come from the teachers and leaders who are closely connected to their families and communities. This grant lets us increase our focus on erasing opportunity gaps and maximize the impact of our teachers’ and leaders’ professional expertise. The five-year program will launch at CEC Early College and nine other high schools before gradually expanding to nearly every high school in DPS.
School leaders and teachers will collaborate on finding effective strategies to improve instruction and student support at their schools, which is especially important as Colorado moves to implement new graduation requirements — beginning with the DPS Class of 2021.
Great ideas will spread further and faster when educators share what works. That’s why I’ve invited Principal Lofaro to share a bit here about what this grant means for her school community:
“The biggest impact on my professional growth is twofold: I get to learn from and collaborate with leaders I trust and respect, but never have the chance to work with; additionally, I can look deeply at our systems and their effects on student engagement and achievement.
“The early stages of our work has required looking at student data points. We have found that our male students struggle with engagement, which appears to flush out in more failures and less of a connection to the school. As we work to get to the root cause of this issue and create a solution to this problem, we will be able to use similar strategies on other students who may be disengaged.”
– CEC Early College Principal Jamie Lofaro
It’s especially nice to have this kick-off celebration in October — Career and College Success Month. Life after graduation looks different for every student, depending on where their future sights are focused. But above all, we want to make sure every student in our district has the opportunity to learn, grow, thrive, and confidently chart their own course, fueled by the collaboration and instructional excellence of their educators.