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Broad Prize Gets $40 Million Endowment, Narrows Eligibility Pool

The Broad Foundation has endowed the Broad Prize for Urban Education with $40 million in order to sustain the prize in future years, and has announced other changes that it says will ensure the most-improved urban school districts in the country are recognized.

Instead of 100 school districts being eligible for the Broad prize each year, the number has been reduced to 75. Four districts will be selected as finalists, instead of five. And the Broad prize will be reduced to its original $1 million, down from the $2 million level it was funded at for the past three years.

Erica Lepping, a spokeswoman for the Broad Foundation, said the changes are intended to keep the 10-year-old prize's focus on large, urban districts with high numbers of students eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches, a measure of poverty. "The previous criteria cast the net a little bit more widely in terms of smaller districts," she said.

Beginning this year, eligible districts must serve at least 37,500 students, and the foundation is adopting the definition of "urban" that is used by the National Center for Educational Statistics Common Core of Data": a large city, a mid-sized city, or a suburb of a large city. Eligible districts must have at least 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch and 40 percent who are nonwhite. School districts cannot nominate themselves to be placed in the eligibility pool.

A panel of 23 researchers and educators is narrowing the list to four finalists, who will be announced in April, Lepping said. At that point, teams will visit each of the districts to collect qualitative information that will be added to the quantitative data already collected for each district. A jury of nine, made up of national business, industry and education leaders, makes the final decision on the winning district.

The foundation said that it was scaling back the total award given to the winning district and finalists. Beginning this year, the winning district will receive $550,000 in scholarships. Each of the remaining three finalist school districts will receive $150,000 in scholarships. For the past few years, the winning district received $1 million in scholarship money, and the four finalists received $250,000 each, for a total of $2 million.

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