03/02/2010 in Featured Grants

Gund Foundation Supports Cleveland Schools Transformation Plan

CLEVELAND OH — The George Gund Foundation strongly endorsed the Cleveland Municipal School District’s (CMSD) transformation plan with a $2.5 million grant to transform CMSD management and operations and to help create more new and innovative schools. The Foundation anticipates providing an additional $4 million in the second and third years of the plan. 

“Our grant is contingent on the Board of Education’s formal adoption of the plan at their March 9 meeting and on satisfactory progress toward the goals of the plan,” said David Abbott, Foundation executive director. “We urge the Board of Education to pass the proposed plan, complete with the difficult decision to close schools in order to concentrate investments in what works. The challenge is great, but this break with the past is absolutely necessary. Incremental change will not enable our students to make the kind of breakthroughs in performance required to compete in, and contribute to, the 21st century global economy.”

Abbott said the Foundation will closely track the plans progress, particularly changes in district policies, procedures and operations needed to meet transformation goals.

“Nowhere is this more important than in the alignment of the district’s management, operations and employee contracts-in particular the teachers’ contract-to the transformational goals,” he added. “Teachers are absolutely and irrefutably essential to the plan’s success. They must be inspired to deliver on the district’s promises, supported in their pursuit of academic excellence, and expected to accept accountability for performance, because ultimately they will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the plan.”

Foundation dollars are targeted for new school development and start-up in 2010, planning and development for future new schools, central office restructuring and management of the transformation effort. The Foundation, which has had a longstanding commitment to early childhood education, also has allocated some of the grant funds towards the district’s plan to increase investment in high quality preschool education.

The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation have closely collaborated in a multi-year partnership to create new, innovative and excellent schools in Cleveland. Both have invested significant resources in the planning and start-up of new schools in the district, establishment of a CMSD Office of New and Innovative Schools and research that led to the transformation plan. The Cleveland Foundation has indicated that it will consider an investment in the plan at the March board meeting.

Contacts: Deena Epstein
David Abbott
(216) 241–3114