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Grants will help give students, parents stronger roles







CMSD has received more than $4.6 million in grants to give students and parents a stronger role in learning.

The awards include $1.6 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education and $1.5 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charity started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

CEO Eric Gordon said the District wants to leverage the power and influence of high school student leaders by having them identify and take on important issues. This will build on the work of his Student Advisory Committee, several hundred high school students who provide the CEO with input on various concerns.

Plans also include having students facilitate “academic learning pods” for peers who are struggling or need motivation. Chief Portfolio Officer Christine Fowler-Mack likened the pods to study groups that students frequent in college.

“Learning occurs at the highest levels when there is feedback and support along the way,” said Fowler-Mack, who has led District efforts to strengthen learning and teaching. “We believe that providing this support, with the added benefit of doing it through a lens of a peer learner -- who might even know better what kids are thinking, feeling and experiencing -- would be beneficial.”

A description of the Hewlett grant on the foundation’s website says the money also will be used to share information with parents and the community and involve them in key decisions. And the funds will help support educators adapt to the pandemic with more virtual learning opportunities for students and staff.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative stresses a “whole child approach to education.” CMSD’s grant application focused on students’ identity and academic development and an annual survey of families that will help shape District priorities.

The U.S. Department of Education grant will help ensure that the funds are spent effectively, efficiently and equitably.