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Ford Foundation Pledges $50 Million for Expanded Learning

The Ford Foundation has pledged $50 million over the next three years to work with the National Center on Time & Learning and a coalition of supporters to promote expanded learning time efforts nationwide.

The coalition, with 100 supporters already who include Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone, Eli Broad of the Broad Foundation, and John Deasy of the Los Angeles Unified School District, will push schools to lengthen their day and calendars using the extra time to help close the achievement gap and meet student and staff needs at individual school sites.

In light of the announced partnership and coalition, a new site, "Time to Succeed," has been launched, which will serve as a source of information for those interested in expanded learning efforts, more specifics on best practices for lengthening the school day, and other ways to get involved with others interested in ELT grassroots efforts.

On a call late last week about the initiative, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, discussed her joining in on the efforts, and said teachers had been wrongfully associated by some as a burden that hinders ELT. Instead, Weingarten said, teachers can be an "enabling agent" to make expanded learning more powerful and impactful, provided they are treated fairly and asked for input on how to best lengthen the day at their respective schools.

The NCTL hopes to have doubled the number of students in schools with expanded calendars within the next two years; NCTL currently estimates there are 1,000 schools, serving 460,000 students, in the country that have implemented expanded learning time in their schools.

"More than $4.5 billion in federal resources have been made available by the Obama administration and Congress to support expanded learning time," according to statements from the center. "Experience is showing that expanded learning time, when designed and used well, makes a wide array of other strategies for improving teaching and learning more effective."

As you may remember, Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank, issued a report highlighting the positives and negatives of expanded learning and things educators should consider if ELT is pursued as a turnaround strategy.

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