Building Community
Building Community

When educators design and create new schools, and live next gen learning themselves, they take the lead in growing next gen learning across the nation. Other educators don’t simply follow and adopt; next gen learning depends on personal and community agency—the will to own the change, fueled by the desire to learn from and with others. Networks and policy play important roles in enabling grassroots approaches to change.

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The NGLC Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools accelerates innovative school redesign at the local level. In 2014, six Regional Funds partner organizations were selected through a competitive application process. A seventh partner was added in 2016. The goal is to accelerate student achievement in these regions by catalyzing adoption of new, next gen learning designs for schools.

NGLC is nurturing a school redesign movement with investments to support educators, school designers, and innovation partners to design and launch innovative schools—Breakthrough Schools—to accelerate student achievement through next gen learning models. As we learn from their experiences, we are sharing promising emerging practices across the country.

With the commitment of a number of partners, NGLC intensified this effort in selected cities across the U.S. The Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools focused initially on two locations—Washington, D.C. and Chicago—and expanded to include four additional regions in 2014 and one more in 2016. (You can find more in-depth information on each of our Regional Funds partners using the links below.)

This regional expansion of NGLC’s national investments is designed to:

  • Reach more entrepreneurs at all levels of public education who have a dream—and the outlines of a plan—to design and launch new kinds of schools that engage students much more personally in their own learning
  • Ignite (or expand) a culture and community of innovation in the selected cities by enlisting local partners and building active, geographically-centered new school networks
  • Encourage city-level cooperation and alignment between key partners including school districts, philanthropists, mayors’ offices, innovation incubators, community-based organizations, and (in some cases) state education agencies
  • Expand interest in these personalized, mastery-based, blended learning models by other educators in the regional sites and surrounding districts and cities

Educators and school designers from the sites joining this initiative benefit from a wide range of locally-based supports and networks provided, in part, by the lead community partners and in part through NGLC’s national programs. Aspiring school designers also have access to grant funds specifically designated to support schools in their respective city.

By June 2015, 49 schools were selected to receive funding and supports as a result of this effort. The number of innovative schools designing and launching school-wide models of personalized learning in the Regional Funds sites is anticipated to grow to nearly 100 by fall 2016.

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What Can the NGLC Regional Funds Teach Us about Local Strategies for Next Gen Learning?
A publication from Getting Smart and NGLC, Getting Smart on Regional Next-Gen School Design, illuminates best practices and the individual and collective stories of the NGLC Regional Funds.

Sound Advice on Personalized Learning from Six Regional Incubators
Each of the NGLC Regional Funds partners shared early lessons in a Dell Foundation podcast series.

Educator Entrepreneurs: Big Decisions & Strategies for Success

This blog series examines the Regional Funds efforts through the lens of Ida Hempel's three key dimensions of city-based entrepreneurship strategies.

Summer Professional Learning - Discover what the Regional Funds partners provide in summer professional learning opportunities focused on next gen school design.

The Regional Funds

Breakthrough Schools: Chicago
Breakthrough Schools: Colorado
Breakthrough Schools: D.C.
Breakthrough Schools: New Orleans
New England NextGen Personalized Learning Initiative
NGLC in Oakland
Massachusetts Personalized Learning Network

The Regional Funds is one strategy for growing next gen learning across the nation. See below for NGLC grantees who are also taking on the challenge of Building Community to grow next gen learning through networks.

Our Partners

Gates Foundation logo

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Founding Partner & Funder

We see equal value in all lives. And so we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. From the education of students in Chicago, to the health of a young mother in Nigeria, we are catalysts of human promise everywhere.
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The Broad Foundation


The Broad Foundation was founded by the Broad family in the 1960s as a way to support their charitable interests and causes. But with their financial success from the sale of SunAmerica, the Broads focused their charitable giving in a new style of investing that was more akin to their business acumen: venture philanthropy. Today, The Broad Foundations, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, have assets of $2.1 billion. Their mission is to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.
Dell Foundation logo

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation


Inspired by their passion for children and by a shared desire to improve the lives of children living in urban poverty, Michael and Susan Dell established their Austin, Texas-based foundation in 1999. To date, the foundation has committed more than $1 billion to assist nonprofit organizations working in major urban communities in the United States, South Africa and India. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation focuses on opportunities with the greatest potential to directly and measurably transform the lifelong outcomes of impoverished urban children around the globe.
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Center for Collaborative Education

Regional Funds

The Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) envisions a just and equitable world in which every student is college- and career-ready, and prepared to become a compassionate, thoughtful and contributing global citizen.
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CityBridge Education

Regional Funds

At CityBridge, we are guided by an unshakable belief in the equal worth of every person: Regardless of station, regardless of calling, every individual has equal value and deserves access to abundant opportunity. For us, this belief translates into service to the children of Washington, D.C., where the majority of schoolchildren face some disadvantage or adversity. We believe schools are the best and most promising settings to address these inequities. CityBridge Education represents the early stage of the school development pipeline: In partnership with D.C.’s traditional public (DCPS) and charter sectors, we incubate and launch new schools and transform existing ones. Our goal: 25 in Five—redesign or launch 25 innovative public schools within five years in our nation’s capital.
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Colorado Education Initiative

Regional Funds Colorado

The Colorado Education Initiative and its coalition partners imagine a future where education is designed to: help students develop the academic, professional, entrepreneurial, personal, and civic competencies that a modern society and economy demand; support educators in creating learning environments designed to maximize these outcomes for students; and promote systems that support and incentivize educators in this effort.
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LEAP Innovations

Regional Funds

LEAP Innovations advances personalized learning to prepare Americans for 21st Century skills by piloting, evaluating and diffusing successful teaching and learning innovations. Through the LEAP Pilot Network, the organization identifies education technology tools for critical learning gaps and matches them with learning environments prepared for them to create a rapid feedback loop, accelerating refinement while using rigorous standards so educators can quickly adopt what works. LEAP also provides co-working and training space and programs to bring together school designers, educators, entrepreneurs, tech companies, learning scientists and students to develop next-generation learning models, share ideas, co-develop solutions, and receive quality training.
New England Secondary Schools Consortium

New England Secondary Schools Consortium

Regional Funds

The New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) is a regional partnership that promotes forward-thinking innovations in the design and delivery of secondary education across New England. The five partner states—Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—work together to close persistent achievement gaps and promote greater educational equity and opportunity for all students.
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New Schools for New Orleans

Regional Funds

New Schools for New Orleans and its coalition partners envision New Orleans transforming from a “C” school system to an “A” system—one that prepares all students for college and career—with effective personalized learning as a key driver. New Orleans will become a national proof point for what is possible when innovative school models operate within a system built on autonomy, accountability, and choice. The structure of the New Orleans coalition, which seeks to scale personalized learning, reflects these principles and decentralized environment. The coalition includes three non-profits: New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), Educate Now!, and 4.0 Schools (4.0), with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD).
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Rogers Family Foundation

Regional Funds

The Rogers Family Foundation (RFF) seeks to catalyze organizations and systems to achieve and excel at the highest level in positively transforming the educational experience and opportunities for Oakland’s most disadvantaged students. Investing both staffing and funding resources, the Foundation envisions a future in which all Oakland students will graduate college-, career-, and community-ready. RFF is committed to ensuring that all students in Oakland have the opportunity to attend a high-quality school. Given the crucial importance of early school readiness, RFF has also set the goal that, by 2020, 85% of students will read at grade level by the end of third grade. In addition, RFF believes that achievement gaps by socioeconomic status must be eliminated for the city’s educational system to truly achieve transformative change.