Nonprofit Issues Grants to Aid Local Schools

Accelerate Great Schools awards two grants to help programs at CPS and local Catholic schools

click to enlarge Image: a public school that still has busing
Image: a public school that still has busing

A recently formed Cincinnati education-focused nonprofit announced today that it will hand out its first two grants — totaling more than $1.4 million — to aid two different projects at Cincinnati Public Schools and two local Catholic schools. 


Accelerate Great Schools, a nonprofit made up of business leaders, educators and philanthropists, will be giving a grant of $128,000 to help aid a partnership between CPS and the nonprofit TNTP (formally The New Teacher Project) in developing a better hiring system for its principals. It will also give a grant of up to $1.3 million to help St. Francis de Sales in Walnut Hills and St. Cecilia School in Oakley to implement a blended learning model next school year with the help of the nonprofit Seton Education Partners, which works with disadvantaged students in Catholic schools.


Accelerate Great Schools held the press conference at St. Joseph's Catholic School in the West End, which has had Seton's blended learning model in place since the last school year. The technology-driven approach to education would have students using software on computers for part of their classroom experience.
"Basically what the classroom looks like is very different from your traditional classroom; computers are in every room," said Susie Gibbons, interim superintendent at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, at the press conference. "Students are given portions of every period of every day on a computer where the software is tailored to their needs and their special learning difficulties to bring them up and beyond grade levels." 

The separate $128,000 grant would aid a partnership between CPS and TNTP to work with the school district's leadership to improve their hiring system for the district's principals. 

Superintendent Mary Ronan says the school district worked with TNTP last year to change the hiring system for teachers, under which CPS then hired 320 new teachers during the last school year. She says the nonprofit helped the district develop new interview questions, rubrics and scenarios to aid the human resources department in screening and hiring teachers. She thinks the new system has been very successful, and says CPS is currently looking to fill eight positions for principals. "I think we hired some just outstanding teachers, so we're hoping to also do that with our principal pipeline," Ronan says. 

These grants come as the first of the $25 million Accelerate Great Schools hopes give out to Cincinnati area public, private and charter schools. It says through the grant process, it hopes to help aid the city's poorest students by helping schools select and train talented teachers and principals — and double the number of spots at high-performing schools across Cincinnati from 5,000 to 10,000 in the next five years. 


The make-up of the seven-month-old nonprofit's leadership leans heavier on the side of business leaders and philanthropists than on educators. Some have questioned the motives behind the group, wondering if they're actually most interested in promoting the charter schools in the city. The group's initial plan for the money when it launched last May had $15 million going toward creating charter schools that would partner with CPS or the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.