Great Public Schools Now to provide up to $3.75 million for L.A. Unified school expansion

Great Public Schools Now to fund expansion of up to five high-performing Los Angeles Unified School District campuses

LOS ANGELES, CA – Great Public Schools Now (GPSN), a non-profit organization committed to replicating successful schools in communities in need, announced today that it will provide up to $3.75 million in philanthropic funding to five exemplary Los Angeles Unified School District campuses in 2017. 

“We are excited to begin this collaboration with L.A. Unified schools where we know high-needs students are finding supportive learning environments that result in high achievement,” said Myrna Castrejón, Executive Director of GPSN. “Our goal is to increase the number of students enrolled in high-quality programs, and to do so quickly. We believe there are many ways to find success, and these schools have found what works for them in a holistic context. Rather than try to single out what elements of a school are working, we simply want to help successful leaders do more, and not tinker with what’s working.”

The grants will be awarded to non-selective, high-performing magnet, pilot, or traditional schools where at least half of the students met or exceeded proficiency in English or math on state tests. Funding can also go to campuses where no fewer than 25% of students perform at proficient levels and the school as a whole performed significantly better in math and English than surrounding schools with similar demographics. 

Eligible schools must also enroll special education students and English language learners at rates comparable to district schools as a whole, and administrators should also have the autonomy to pick their own teaching staffs while also staying aligned with state education law and previous agreements.

The grants will be used to pay for school expansion—either through adding capacity for enrollment or adding a whole new campus.

“I am excited about the opportunities to increase the number of high-quality choices for our L.A. Unified families,” said L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King. “We have schools in every corner of the District where students are excelling. Investing in these campuses will allow more of our students to attain the knowledge and skills to be successful in college, careers and in life.”

“I have encouraged our Local District superintendents to identify our most successful models and to work with their teams to develop competitive and forward-thinking proposals,” King said.

The grants will be made available only to district-run schools. GPSN will have separate processes and funding to support other educational efforts, including teacher training programs and charter organizations.

School administrators can apply by Oct..28 for initial planning grants to help fund the application process, although schools are not required to apply for the planning grants in order to submit an implementation grant application. The deadline for final applications is February 2017. Final applications will be initially vetted by an advisory committee consisting of education experts within and outside L.A. Unified. A final decision will be made by the GPSN Board of Directors by April 2017. Final grant amounts will be decided on a case-by-case basis and will range from $50,000 to $250,000 over a three-year period.

“These grants can help us bring additional resources to meet our students’ needs,” said Christopher Downing, who oversees 148 schools as superintendent of Local District South. “They deserve every learning opportunity that will create pathways to college and 21st century careers.”

The grants will be the first in a series to support L.A. Unified schools, and GPSN officials hope to expand the scope of the program in the future. As the selected campuses implement the grants, GPSN and L.A. Unified officials will track results to see what educational strategies can be replicated and how the grant-making process can be improved.

GPSN is also seeking ideas for future collaborations and will be holding two town hall forums to discuss education and gather feedback from parents and community members. The first event will be held Oct. 22 at St. Marks Banquet Hall, 14646 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, 91405 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The second will be on Dec. 10 in South Los Angeles; further details will be announced shortly.  


For Great Public Schools Now questions, contact:
Jason Song
(213) 223-2018

For L.A. Unified questions, contact:
Shannon Haber
(213) 241-4575