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Bill Gates Pledges $460 Million To Help Struggling American Schools

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is once again putting his money where his mouth is by pledging $460 million to help schools in the US that are struggling.

The AP reported that Gates and wife Melinda Gates and their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year pledged $460 million over the next five years to help low-income and minority students get to college by funding programs in schools in poorer communities. Now the foundation is detailing how that grant money will be spent. This week they announced the first round of funding of nearly $100 million. That money will go towards 19 program initiatives for middle and high schools in poor communities across 13 states.

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According to the AP the money that will be donated over the course of the next five years will fund programs that will encompass what it takes to help get students to a post secondary education. The grants will not only help students in their academic studies like English and math, but will also help students in other ways. The programs will provide aid to those filling out college applications as well as how to help students who have found themselves in disciplinary trouble in school.

“We’re not inventing anything in this strategy. We’re taking what we learned from research and experience,” said Bob Hughes, who leads Gates’ K-12 education program. With this funding the foundation is looking to put funds in the hands of educators and administrators locally and regionally who are familiar with programs that work and letting them implement them.

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Gates's donations have been criticized in the past for not being as successful as hoped, which is why this new round of donations is aimed letting those who know what works in targeted areas take the lead, vs the national or system-wide education initiatives that Gates previously supported. After all, schools and communities are different throughout the country, as are the challenges facing students who live in those communities, so the strategies to help them succeed may need to be different as well.

According to The 74, by allowing targeted schools to work with supporting organizations in the community through their Networks for School Improvement they can better address the barriers students are faced with in that community that may prevent them from finishing and being successful at school.

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"There is no one-size-fits all solution to school improvement," the foundation states. "School leaders, including principals and teachers, working together are in the best position to determine how to best support their students"

 

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