If you had $40 million to spend toward education, how would you spend it? That’s the big question for seven school districts in King County, which have just recently won a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Three years ago Seattle Public Schools and several South King County school districts came together to create an application for the first ever Race to the Top grant for Washington school districts, and education initiative by Obama.
But this was application was no cake walk; the application was a whopping 320 pages long. The application also included 175 letters from various community members, housing authorities, and mayors demonstrating their support for the school districts. Putting together the application required the work of hundreds of people. Winning this grant is a great achievement for these school districts, having competed against 371 other applicants in the U.S.
So what will these seven school districts do with the $40 million? This group has come together with a common goal: to increase the number of students who graduate from college. Supporters of education, like Bill Gates, believe that a high school diploma is not enough to compete in today’s labor market. Many believe that a college degree or a career credential is essential for success and security. To help a students achieve this, these districts are planning on using the grant to help prepare students for college and to train counselors to help students with the application process.
What’s great about this grant is that most of the money will go toward programs that help students coming from low-income families. Much of the grant will be devoted to one of the best, and most needed areas: early learning. Many educators strongly believe that the first five years of life are crucial for developing skills that help lay the foundation for future academic and life success.
The districts will also focus their efforts on improving STEM education. One of the ways they plan to tackle this is to keep these school subjects at students’ fingertips by providing them with useful, convenient resources. For instance, they plan on providing an online math program for elementary and middle school students in low-income neighborhoods, which they will be able to access both at home and at school.
It looks like these school districts already have great plans on ways to spend the grant. Based on their proposals so far, it seems they are putting their money into areas that are most needed and that will make the most impact.