U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), today announced a new competitive grant program that will provide $15 million in public funds over three years to reinforce and accelerate intervention efforts in the nation's lowest-performing schools.
The new School Turnaround AmeriCorps program will support the placement of a dedicated cadre of AmeriCorps members in persistently underachieving schools across the country. This innovative approach seeks to increase student academic achievement, attendance and high school graduation rates, and college and career readiness in those schools.
"Turning around our nation's lowest-performing schools is challenging work that requires everyone to play a part -- from teachers, administrators, and counselors to business leaders, the philanthropic sector, and community members," said Duncan. "This interagency collaboration will align national service and turnaround efforts in schools across the country. I am looking forward to seeing innovative proposals from great organizations that will enable hundreds of AmeriCorps members to serve some of our most disadvantaged students."
"Making sure that every child gets a quality education is a core value that unites all Americans," Spencer said. "This partnership will expand the role of AmeriCorps members in helping students, teachers, parents, and school administrators transform schools into models of achievement. We welcome new ideas that will result in the same outcome: schools that are putting children on the pathway to success."
A partnership of the Department and CNCS, School Turnaround AmeriCorps reflects each agency's commitment to increasing opportunities for students in disadvantaged communities through high-quality education. The program will combine the assets and expertise of both agencies with the on-the-ground presence of AmeriCorps members in schools that are implementing a turnaround effort through the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program.
Since 2009, the Department has invested $4.5 billion at more than 1,300 of the country's lowest-performing schools. Currently, CNCS programs have a presence in a quarter of schools eligible for SIG funding nationwide. School Turnaround AmeriCorps will augment these investments, expand opportunities for national service, and supply struggling schools with much-needed talent to support the implementation of school improvement plans.
The program also extends the efforts of Together for Tomorrow, a cooperative initiative among the Department, CNCS, and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to boost community engagement in improving outcomes at chronically under-performing schools.
The Department and CNCS intend to award School Turnaround AmeriCorps grants to engage approximately 650 AmeriCorps members each year for three years at an estimated 60 schools in urban centers and rural towns across the country. The program will be supported by an initial investment of $15 million in public funds from both agencies over three years. CNCS will seek to raise additional private funds to contribute to this effort. In addition, AmeriCorps members who complete their service in the program will qualify for the Segal AmeriCorps scholarship, which could total $1.5 million a year for all participants.
Organizations applying for grants will be encouraged to focus on strategies that increase parent and family engagement and student learning time; improve school safety, attendance, and discipline; address students' social, emotional, and health needs; accelerate students' acquisition of reading and mathematics knowledge and skills; and increase graduation and college enrollment rates.
Public or private nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and other community groups; schools or districts; institutions of higher education; cities and counties; Indian Tribes; and labor organizations are eligible to apply, along with partnerships and consortia of these entities.
A notice of intent to apply must be submitted to CNCS by April 2, 2013 via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due on April 23, 2013. More information about the notice of intent and application instructions may be found here. Grants will be awarded by mid-July.