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PPS wins $150,000 Barr Foundation Grant

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PPS wins $150,000 Barr Foundation Grant
Posted on 10/02/2018
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The Portland Public Schools has won an award of $150,000 from the Barr Foundation to engage in comprehensive analysis to better understand the academic experiences of the district’s high school students and inform future steps to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college, career, and the community.

The district is one of five New England school districts that each won $150,000 through the Foundation’s competitive request for proposals, Planning for Post-Secondary Success for All Students. The Portland Public Schools will form a cohort with the Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Conn.; the Malden Public Schools in Malden, Mass.; the Manchester School District in Manchester, N.H.; and the Worcester Public Schools in Worcester, Mass. The cohort will conduct comprehensive analyses of their high school student populations, share key learnings, and provide peer support through this process.  

These districts are committed to using their findings to develop strategic action plans that address student needs and promote postsecondary success.  The insights generated from this analysis, and the support of the cohort, will help cohort members to articulate a vision and next steps to prepare all students for success.

“We’re excited to partner with Portland Public Schools to better understand, through thoughtful analysis, the experiences and needs of their high school students. Portland Public Schools is committed to addressing the findings and making the changes necessary so that all of their students are prepared for success in school, career, and the community,” said Jenny Curtin, Senior Program Officer for Education at the Barr Foundation.

“The Portland Public Schools is grateful to be selected for this Barr Foundation award, which will enhance our efforts to achieve the Equity goal in our Portland Promise,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said. “We know that many of our students go on to postsecondary success, but we don’t always know what factors make the difference at the high school level and lead to that success. This is an opportunity for us to better understand the experiences that prepare students for success in college and career and ensure that all of our students have the level of preparation that breeds success.”

Botana noted that this award helps the Portland Public Schools expand on work begun by Portland ConnectED, a community coalition that strives to support Portland students from cradle to college, career and citizenship. In 2014, ConnectED released a comprehensive Baseline Report, detailing Portland’s critical indicators and inviting others to join in putting ideas into action.

Botana thanked ConnectED and ConnectED partners, including the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College, for their assistance in significant progress that has been made since that early report. “The Barr award presents an opportunity to figure out how to build the capacity to repeat and refine the analysis and use the lessons on an ongoing basis,” Botana said.

He also thanked district Equity Specialist Barrett Wilkinson, who will coordinate the district’s work relating to the award.

Based in Boston, the Barr Foundation has a regional focus. It works in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts and creative expression, to advance solutions for climate change, and to connect all students to success in high school and beyond.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district; it works to prepare and empower almost 7,000 students PreK-12 and nearly 4,000 adult education students.