ASU, Be a Leader Foundation Secure $8.7 Million Grant From Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Posted By on December 12, 2019

About 56,000 students at 23 underserved Arizona schools will have a better shot at pursuing higher education thanks to an $8.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The five-year grant, given by the foundation to Arizona State University and the Be a Leader Foundation, which seeks to increase the number of college-bound students across the state, will help finance a new Network for School Improvement, which will expand school partnerships and broaden student access to higher education.

“For ASU, partnering with schools and communities is not an afterthought, but a fundamental component of our institutional design” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Through the Arizona NSI, our collaboration will scale our university-school district partnerships to drive innovation that enhances educational access and empowers learners to achieve their full potential.”

Currently, about 53% of high school graduates across Arizona go on to pursue higher education, but this figure is much lower in underserved areas. The grant money generously given by the foundation will help students at 23 schools, who represent about 16% of all high school seniors across the state, gain access to tools, research and resources that help increase their college enrollment numbers while setting more students up for self-sufficiency and, ultimately, career success.   

“While we know that no two schools are the same, there is a lot that schools can learn together and from each other to solve common challenges,” said Be a Leader President & Chief Executive Officer Melissa Trujillo. ““Having an infrastructure where schools can regularly share lessons learned and best practices will ensure more students are receiving the support they need to pursue higher education.”

ASU Associate Vice President with Educational Outreach and Student Services Sylvia Symonds noted that the grant money will help the state inch closer to its goal of having 60% of Arizona adults hold a degree or similar high-value credential by 2030.

“The future of Arizona depends on students’ access to high-quality education as a pathway to opportunity,” she said. “We know that the resources are out there: research, great ideas and educators who care deeply about student success. The Network for School Improvement takes those resources and leverages them to have a strategic, measurable and lasting impact on Valley communities.”

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