By Emily Pallin, RISE Director
Today, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that the Connecticut RISE Network is one of nine new grantees for a network for school improvement grant. This is an exciting opportunity for partners in the RISE Network, and a wonderful recognition of students and educators in the network who have already produced tremendous results through our cross-district and results-driven collaboration.
Four years ago, we created the RISE Network in collaboration with teachers, counselors, and administrators working across schools and districts to help all students achieve college and career success. We embraced a shared mission to empower educators to achieve breakthrough results, helping all of our students realize and achieve their full potential. Through support and partnership with Barbara Dalio and Dalio Philanthropies, the RISE Network brings together educators to advance shared goals, amplifying our collective student impact. The RISE Network began as a community of five high schools across four districts, reaching over 6,000 students. During the 2019-20 school year, we expanded the network to include 10 high schools in nine districts, serving over 14,000 students and connecting over 1,000 educators.
As a network, Grade 9 on-track rates and college readiness and access levels have reached new record highs, and we are closing opportunity gaps for deserving students across Connecticut. Together, educators have demonstrated the power, potential, and impact of the RISE Network. Now is the time to ensure we’re able to increase our support for students, educators, and public high schools in Connecticut. As we work to sustain and deepen our collaboration over time, the RISE team has also taken steps this past year to identify additional philanthropic partners to follow Barbara Dalio’s lead. We are thrilled to now have the support of the BeFoundation, the Gates Foundation, the Goodnow Fund, the Heidenreich Family Foundation, and the Ritter Family Foundation.
Most recently, the RISE Network responded to an opportunity from the Gates Foundation for public school collaborations around the country seeking to improve results for high school-aged youth. Given that this directly aligns to our work and approach, we submitted a proposal and shared the work we are advancing together through RISE. The RISE Network was one of nine organizations from across the country selected for this highly competitive five-year grant opportunity.
So, what does this new opportunity mean for RISE? First and foremost, this is an incredible accomplishment and validation of our students and educators. RISE partners should take great pride in knowing that the work they are leading and the outcomes they are achieving have earned national recognition. RISE now has an even larger platform to share best practices with schools across Connecticut to help strengthen public education. Second, this grant opportunity will provide more resources for our work, helping to accelerate our shared progress and advance positive outcome for even more students. Finally, this grant affirms our approach and founding principles. Our work and collaboration remain the same; this is a community built by educators for educators, and this grant will not change our core approach.