Networks for School Improvement

The Networks for School Improvement (NSI) portfolio supports organizations that bring groups of middle and high schools together to advance high school graduation and college success rates for their Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty. The organizations, which include nonprofits, school districts, county offices of education, and research institutions, help school teams identify and solve common problems using approaches that best fit their needs, learning what works and refining their approaches as they go. The organizations offer coaching, support, and tools for school teams to explore root causes of problems, select evidence-based solutions to test to address those problems, collect and use relevant and timely data to monitor the tests, spend time reflecting and adjusting practice and policy based on results, document and share their work, and learn with others.

While each network decides what approach will work best to address their biggest challenges, there are at least three things successful networks share in common—an unwavering commitment to equity, a dedication to continuous learning and improvement, and a focus on using indicators proven to predict students’ learning, progress, and success.

In addition to our NSI grants, our Model Design and Initiation (MDI) grants represent a continuation of our existing NSI strategy, as we believe that a data-informed approach to these adjustments will help school teams know whether their approach is having a positive impact on outcomes for Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty. Learn more about those grants here.  

Investment Priorities

Our grantmaking in our Networks for School Improvement portfolio is currently focused on the following priorities.

Build Capacity of the Current Investments

Our priority is to support the current NSI to meet the needs of their students and schools in this incredibly challenging time, as they work to improve on-track outcomes and build sustainable networked continuous improvement capacities in their schools and systems. The NSI Community of Practice, which brings together networks to learn with and from each other, is currently focused on providing additional support and resources relating to understanding student need and engaging student voice, centering equity, building more effective knowledge-management systems, and ways to engage systems leaders in the improvement work.

Continue to Learn

We are dedicated to deep, rigorous learning and sharing about this work. We want to make sure schools are getting the support they need right now, and to learn under what conditions school-based teams successfully work together as a network to apply the tenets of continuous improvement to boost on-track student outcomes for students, how data systems can be reoriented to support rapid-cycle classroom and school level improvement, and what capacities intermediaries need to be successful.

Share Resources and Build the Field

The NSI are developing a collection of powerful and useful resources, and we will support them to continue to generate public goods and assets to share with the field. We are also deepening partnerships with organizations to develop resources for post-Covid recovery work in schools, along with more equity-focused tools and other supports.