Albertson Foundation offers $5 million for a new school model proposal
A new form of school concept that connects students with their futures is coming to Idaho. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation Monday released a $5 million Request for Proposals (RFP) for applications from school districts and charter operators to create a new form of school somewhere in Idaho.
Idaho has set a goal of seeing 60 percent of its students complete some form of post-secondary education by 2020, Jennie Sue Weltner, Communications Officer with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, said in a news release.
“Education and business leaders have identified that Idaho needs an increased number of workforce development strategies to prepare Idaho’s students to succeed in a post-secondary setting or career of their choice. Time is of the essence: Recent reports show that the fastest-growing high wage jobs require at least some post-secondary education. But Idaho ranks 40th nationally for students who progress from the 9th grade all the way through college, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems,” she said.
That goal inspired the Foundation’s Pathways to College and Careers Charter School plan which , said Weltner, asks applicants to design and launch a new school in collaboration with a higher-education institution and a strong industry partner. Students of this school will be in a position to make informed choices about their college and career paths and graduate ready to excel in college or in a job in one of Idaho’s major industries. The state’s 60 percent goal will require a diverse array of strategies.
“The Foundation has budgeted $5 million for a successful school start-up, including expenses to pay for trips to Idaho to discuss potential proposals. The money will also pay for the school’s establishment, to ensure that students can attend without having to pay tuition,” she stated.
“Idaho students, regardless of their zip code or economic status, deserve every possible advantage to help them launch meaningful careers,” said Jamie MacMillan, the Executive Director of the J.K. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. “We’re excited to offer Idaho a school model that combines solid student achievement outcomes while producing graduates who are ready to fill positions in the industries that will drive Idaho’s future.”
The school envisioned in the Foundation’s RFP is inspired by the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or PTECH, model that is being piloted in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Chicago, Ill. While those schools serve students in grades 9-14, the Foundation is open to funding projects that serve a different grade range as well.
Letters of intent regarding the RFP are due March 8.
Before then the Foundation will host a “bidder’s academy” on February 27 to help potential bidders learn more about the expectations in the RFP. The final proposals are due April 5, so the charter application can be submitted to the Idaho Charter School Commission on July 1.
The Foundation has budgeted $5 million for the school’s start-up, including expenses to pay for trips to Boise to discuss potential proposals.
“Idaho companies need talented graduates, so we can hire from within the state, not look outside for candidates to fill high-end jobs,” said Bob Lokken, CEO of WhiteCloud Analytics and a former executive at ProClarity and Microsoft. “We have the raw talent right here in Idaho’s towns and rural areas. We just need more educational opportunity for our kids, to help get them where we all need them to be.”
Students in the PTECH schools are partnered with industry professionals who make sure to coordinate the school’s academic program with the needs and trends in the coordinating industry.
The third leg of a PTECH school is a higher education institution, to help guide and inform curriculum at the school. The grant will pay for the salaries of full-time liaisons to coordinate efforts between the three entities.
“We see no reason why students from Idaho’s rural areas can’t use and benefit from this kind of educational opportunity,” said MacMillan. “We believe in the 60 percent goal the state has adopted. Now we need to give students the tools to get there.”
"I'm particularly interested in the emphasis on industry engagement and partnership between business and education. It is this type of collaboration that I believe is crucial to the alignment of a student's education and future career opportunity," said Dr. Todd Schwarz, the state administrator for the Division of Professional-Technical Education. "Idaho has a great opportunity here to supply its students with the technical skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for successful performance in a globally competitive work place."
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is a Boise-based, private family foundation committed to limitless learning for all Idahoans. Since 1997, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million to improve education in Idaho.