July 13, 2021
An Update on COVID-19 from the Education Program
In these extraordinary times, Education grantee organizations are using this moment as an opportunity to -as some say- “Build Back Better.” And we see grantees taking this moment to double down on efforts to address long standing racial opportunity gaps that continue to plague schools and school districts. Fry Foundation grantees Leading Educators and The National Equity Project are working closely with CPS leadership, principals and teachers to address long-standing racial opportunity gaps and address learning recovery for their students. Both organizations are advancing the field:
Leading Educators will help principals and teachers double down on helping students by using the new CPS Skyline curriculum to provide grade level instruction. Skyline was formerly referred to as the Curriculum Equity Initiative. Skyline is one of the most ambitious curriculum efforts taken on by a large urban school district. Partners like Leading Educators will be key to ensuring schools have the supports to successfully adopt and implement Skyline. CPS and Leading Educators want to develop a “Skyline adoption playbook” for other CPS schools. If successful, this effort could ensure that all CPS teachers and students – especially those in schools in disinvested communities – have access to high quality grade-level resources and instruction, and that teachers will have the skills and strategies to help more students achieve at grade-level.
The National Equity Project is newer to Chicago but has become a critical partner in helping the District address its goal to improve the learning experience for Black and Brown CPS students and eliminate historical academic opportunity gaps. The Fry Foundation has long understood the need for school principals who are effective instructional leaders and can create a strong school climate for learning. We are now learning that “leading for equity” is an important competency for principals. New research is helping us understand that principals who are equity-oriented can help diverse learners, including students who are Black, Indigenous, students of color, and low-income students, feel valued and experience academic success. The National Equity Project seeks to expand its footprint in CPS and help more principals address long standing equity challenges in their schools. This project is testing a combination of promising approaches to improve learning for all students. These approaches are based on learning science research; cultural competence; systems design; and challenging conversations about race, racism and implicit biases. And this effort puts principals at the center of its school improvement strategy.