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Baltimore City Public Schools receive $12.2 million to help 9th graders stay on track to graduate

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Posted at 12:24 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 12:24:31-05

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Public Schools have received a $12.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the district’s 9th Grade On-Track Initiative to help students stay on track to graduate.

The five-year commitment builds on the district’s current 9th grade work, bringing together 12 schools that will seek to implement strategies to support their 9th graders better collaboratively.

“Ninth grade is a crucial time for our students, a time when being on track could mean the difference between graduating or falling behind,” said Dr. Sonja Santelises. “This funding will ensure that students have access to high-quality instruction and are equipped with the necessary skills and supports that will enable them to be successful in college, career, and beyond. We’re so appreciative for the support.”

This award is the second grant to City Schools made by the Gates Foundation. The first grant, awarded in 2018 as part of the Networks for School Improvement (NSI) initiative, supported 26 of the district’s secondary schools in their work to increase literacy achievement. The grant is managed by and was secured in partnership with the Fund for Educational Excellence, a local non-profit working to access resources, identify and accelerate solutions, and recognize excellence to provide an equitable education for all children in Baltimore City Public Schools.

Ninth grade is a critical period in a student’s learning when lagging academically can impact a student’s likelihood of graduating. Through this project, the district wants 9th-grade students to feel more connected and heard in school, to have more robust relationships with their teachers, and to have more access to the resources and programming they need for success.

Funding will be used to:

  • Train teachers to better connect with and listen to students; use data to identify challenges and barriers to student success, and track progress as new ideas are implemented
  • Expand district College and Career Coaching to begin in 9th grade to better prepare students at an earlier age for life after high school
  • Support schools with funding, guidance, and access to experts and resources as they seek to serve their students more equitably
  • Coordinate visits for teachers and school leaders to observe and learn from peer schools in other cities that have found success with 9th grade
  • Purchase needed resources and programs to address school challenges
  • Hire new staff to support implementing these programs in the 12 schools and ultimately to the entire district.