Walton Family Foundation to Support Atlanta Public Schools Turnaround Efforts
February 23, 2017, ATLANTA – Today the Walton Family Foundation announced it will invest $2.1 million to support and evaluate the success of Atlanta Public Schools’ Turnaround Strategy. The grants will also help the district launch APS Insights, a first-of-its-kind data dashboard available this summer to share information about school options and quality with Atlanta parents.
“APS is grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for its continued support of our students and educators,” said APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D. “These funds will allow us to provide real-time student achievement and behavior data to parents, evaluate the effectiveness of the district’s Turnaround Strategy, and ensure successful implementation of the district’s first turnaround partner schools.”
This investment marks the first time the Walton Family Foundation is working directly with Atlanta Public Schools to expand access to and information about quality schools. The foundation is a longtime supporter of public schools in Atlanta, investing nearly $9.2 million to help more parents access high-quality schools since 1999.
“We commend Superintendent Carstarphen and APS leadership for taking bold steps to improve schools in Atlanta, and know that students, parents, and educators will all benefit from these initiatives,” said Marc Sternberg, K-12 Education Director at the foundation. “Children win when parents have the opportunity to choose a great school from multiple high-quality options, and cities win when high-quality schools can grow to serve all students.”
Foundation investments will support three distinct projects: creation and launch of APS Insights; an evaluation of APS’ Turnaround Strategy by nationally reputed researchers at Mathematica Policy Research; and grants to two APS Turnaround schools restarting this year and next.
The foundation will invest $550,000 to support the development of APS Insights, a tool to help parents access useful, easy-to-understand information about schools across Atlanta. It will also provide parents real-time updates about their child’s grades, attendance and behavior – creating new, innovative opportunities for parents and teachers to work together to ensure student success. As the tool is developed, APS will create opportunities to solicit community feedback.
Mathematica Policy Research Evaluation of APS Turnaround Strategy
With $900,000 in foundation support, APS selected the renowned research institution Mathematica Policy Research to conduct a three-year evaluation of efforts to improve consistently low-performing schools. Not only will this research help educators across Atlanta learn from both successes and challenges in turnaround schools, it will also inform the actions of districts and education stakeholders in cities across the country.
Improving Struggling Schools
The foundation’s investment includes two Startup Grants of $325,000 each to support turnaround efforts at Thomasville Heights Elementary School and Gideons Elementary School to dramatically improve student learning. The grants provide critical startup support to these two partner schools, which will continue to serve as zoned schools, while maintaining control over all personnel, curriculum and budget decisions.
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 52,000 students across 88 schools. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 68 traditional schools, 16 charter schools, two citywide single-gender academies and two alternative programs. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us.
About the Walton Family Foundation
For nearly three decades, the Walton Family Foundation has continued the philanthropic vision begun by Sam and Helen Walton. Their legacy is more important than ever as the foundation accelerates efforts to improve K-12 education for all students in America, to protect rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and to give back to the region that first gave Sam and Helen Walton opportunity. In 2015, the Walton Family Foundation awarded grants totaling nearly $375 million. Learn more at waltonfamilyfoundation.org.