Microsoft boss Bill Gates, founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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This archived article was published 21 September 2003
New York City schools to receive
$51 million from Gates Foundation
By Paulo Bótas, Education Editor

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Microsoft boss Bill Gates announced a $51.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support schools in New York City. The grant will support the creation of 67 new small, challenging high schools citywide. The creation of these schools aims to make it possible for more students to receive the high quality education necessary for success in today’s demanding economy.

Mayor Bloomberg told City Mayors that working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create more high schools was another important step in the mission to reform education in New York City. ?Starting this school year, we have implemented the most sweeping reforms in education the City has ever seen with one goal in mind – to put our children first. I would like to thank Bill Gates for this generous contribution and for the Foundation’s dedication to New York City’s schoolchildren,? the Mayor added.

“For too long we have relied on an outdated model to educate our young people,” said Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “New York City is demonstrating how we can bring our schools into the 21st century to make sure that all students, not just a select few, are prepared for college and the working world. Our country’s civic, social and economic future depends on our ability to do this on a national scale.”

In all, the foundation announced nationwide grants totalling $66.5 million as part of its ongoing effort to improve high school graduation rates, particularly among African-American and Hispanic students. To date, the foundation has invested $590 million to support 1,600 schools nationwide, most of which are high schools.

The grants by the Gates Foundation are part of New York City’s widespread plan to boost graduation and college-going rates by creating 200 effective and rigorous small high schools. The grants will support the creation of 67 of these new schools by replicating model high schools and replacing large, struggling high schools in high-need areas throughout the City. Nationally, studies show that nearly one of every three students who enter the ninth grade does not graduate, and a wide achievement gap persists between white and minority students.

Research on the benefits of smaller high schools has spurred more than half of the nation’s largest urban school districts and their communities, including New York City, to transform many of their large high schools into smaller, more focused schools designed to prepare students for college-level work and rewarding careers.

New York City already has a network of high-performing small schools and alternative schools that serve more than 50,000 low-income and minority students. The Julia Richman Education Complex (JREC) in Manhattan, for example, is one of the most successful high school turnaround stories in the country. In 1992, JREC housed 3,000 students and only about one in three students graduated. JREC now comprises four small high schools – each with graduation and college attendance rates of over 80 per cent.

The new small high schools will focus on deprived communities, and offer rich and rigorous curricula, including college-readiness. Small schools foster close relationships between students and adults. A New York study found that students in smaller high schools had higher graduation rates, higher college-going rates and lower dropout rates than their peers in larger schools. A Chicago study found students in small schools had dropout rates one-third lower than those in big schools. Other studies have shown that small schools are safer than big ones and show great promise for raising achievement levels among disadvantaged students.

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