Higher Education and Nonprofits

Foundation awards $51M grant to school district

May 5, 2017
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Battle Creek Public Schools students on computers
Students in the Battle Creek Public Schools district work with computers during a class. Photo via fb.com

A West Michigan school district has received a $51-million grant to implement a series of initiatives focused on improving equity and quality.

The Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation, or WKKF, said today Battle Creek Public Schools, or BCPS, is the recipient of the five-year grant.

The foundation made a public commitment to BCPS students earlier this year, after a New York University study of the community's education system identified “significant disinvestments” in BCPS, which has “higher needs and lower access” compared to surrounding districts. The foundation said "the inequities are rooted in decades of racial segregation.”

The grant to BCPS will support a variety of new programs and enrichment opportunities and “sets in motion exciting, top-to-bottom changes” to support students, parents, teachers and school staff.

Kim Carter, BCPS superintendent, has been working across the district with staff, teachers, parents, community organizations and national education experts to develop a blueprint for the district's future.

Carter said the changes in the curriculum and support to teachers and staff will help increase student achievement in math and reading, graduation rates and teacher retention, as well as decrease student absenteeism, suspensions and dropout rates.

"My vision for our students, for our district is that every single child graduates BCPS college or career ready," Carter said. "Our partnership with the Kellogg Foundation gives our district, teachers and students the resources to reach that goal.”

La June Montgomery Tabron, WKKF president and CEO, said Battle Creek is witnessing historic times. 

All four area school boards came together for a “historic joint meeting” to talk about the NYU study and begin a conversation about how to address “the inequities in education across the community.”

"Every child in Battle Creek has tremendous potential, and it's incumbent on this community to make each child's educational journey a success,” Tabron said. “Together, we can support all our children to the fullest, so they can realize their dreams. These are bold and courageous efforts, because the work ahead will be hard and at times, messy, but this work is so important and it needs all of us.”

Allocation of grant funds

  • Recruitment and retention incentives for teachers and professional development
  • A full-day pre-kindergarten summer transition program
  • Extended pre-kindergarten school year
  • Implementation of an Intermediate STEM academy
  • High school college pathways program, including an early middle college program, an International Baccalaureate program and academies aligned with fields of interest
  • Enhanced academic program support for all learners
  • Comprehensive behavior-education plan focused on alternatives to school suspension
  • Investments in the arts and athletics
  • Early literacy support personnel
  • Implementation of an “innovative curriculum” aligned at all grade levels

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