PHILADELPHIA — June 28, 2005 — Today at the National Education Computing Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced 11 grant recipients that will share more than $5 million over the next four years to further develop groundbreaking programs that have a track record of helping students and teachers create the 21st-century learning environment necessary in today’s knowledge economy. The grants are part of Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning initiative, the U.S. branch of the company’s global effort to help individuals, communities and nations develop and grow programs that enable access to technology tools, and foster technology skills and innovation. The winners announced today include organizations focused on initiatives for teacher retention and professional development, experiential learning, and student-developed software and online games.
“Over the years, business and education leaders like us have witnessed countless effective education programs often lacking the essential mechanisms to spread the program to other entities battling similar challenges,” said Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, one of the 11 organizations to receive a grant. “The Midtier grants are incredibly valuable because they are designed to focus on this particular gap in understanding, study it through specific projects, document new insights, and share the gleaned ingredients with others. We are thrilled to be selected.”
Winners of the Microsoft Partners in Learning grants are Alabama Best Practices Center (Powerful Conversations About Professional Development Project), Council of Independent Colleges (Teachers for the 21st Century), Global Kids Inc. (Playing 4 Keeps), Lemon Grove School District (LemonLINK), National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (Teachers Learning in Networked Communities), Odyssey of the Mind (Integrating Odyssey of the Mind Teaching Strategies Into the Classroom), Global SchoolNet Foundation (International Projects and Partners Collaboration Center), The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (Results-Based Staff Development Initiative CLEARINGHOUSE), SERVE Center at University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Southeast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium), The Northwest Educational Service District 189 (Teacher Leadership Project), and TakingITGlobal. More information on specific projects can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/education.
In addition to the 11 grantees, Microsoft announced collaborative efforts with James Madison University (JMU) and the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). The overall objective of the JMU project will be to implement a rigorous and self-sustaining program of performance certification relative to the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS*T) among pre-K–12 teachers across Virginia. The joint effort with UNA-USA will launch a cutting-edge, interactive Web site for the organization’s groundbreaking Global Classrooms program, which brings the Model United Nations experience to urban U.S. public schools.
“With Microsoft’s generous support, JMU plans to grow a vibrant and dynamic virtual community of professional educators for promoting educational excellence and preparing knowledgeable, skilled and caring teachers who are devoted to helping all children succeed,” said Phil Wishon, dean of James Madison University’s College of Education.
To achieve the primary goal of a continual, relevant and adaptive learning community, the U.S. Partners in Learning grant process was designed to find successful programs with established models and evaluation methods that could be brought to scale more broadly and increase learning opportunities for teachers and students. The minimum requirements include documented evidence that groups of people (organizations or governments) are strongly interested in expanding these projects; that a problem and a new or improved strategy for solving that problem could be defined; that there is existing collaboration among multiple organizations to achieve project success; and that long-term plans for the project continue beyond the U.S. Partners in Learning grants time frame.
Over the past year Microsoft® U.S. Partners in Learning has awarded state-level grants to Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, entering five-year public/private collaborations with the states and providing investment funding for innovative solutions that have been stuck in development or have yet to be deployed due to resource limitations. For example, the collaboration with the state of Washington recently led to a $2.5 million grant to Eastern Washington University and the Cheney School District to help teachers learn how to best tailor their classroom instruction to meet students’ individual needs in reading, writing and math.
“The education community is facing an enormous challenge in developing and delivering 21st-century teaching methodologies to keep pace with today’s knowledge economy,” said Linda Zecher, vice president of the U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. “Within that challenge lies an opportunity for community members to support innovators, helping states and educators to discover and foster the long-term education solutions that exist within their systems.”
To help schools across the nation and around the world adopt all or some of the methods and practices from Partners in Learning projects, Microsoft is documenting the process and creating publicly available resources such as discovery briefs and training materials. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/education/partnersinlearning.aspx.
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