The Community Foundation of Broward has made the largest grant in its 34-year history — $3 million to be matched by Broward County Public Schools to create a fresh new approach to address the social, emotional and academic needs of isolated, struggling middle school students.
With recent events showcasing what could happen when students aren’t connected to teachers and peers within the formative middle school grades, the Community Foundation and its fundholders were compelled to act.
Over the next three years, the $3 million Community Foundation grant will enable the District to bring 20 additional staff into 10 middle schools to provide social/emotional and intense academic support to lower performing students, who are likely to slip under the radar because they aren’t defined as “special needs” or “gifted” – they’re students who are simply “caught in the middle.”
Middle school is the critical “pivot point” where students either get on track toward graduation or enter a downward spiral toward dropping out. Fortunately, the Foundation had been in a long-standing partnership with the School District on an initiative called School is Cool – addressing absenteeism, behavioral issues, and low course performance in reading and math.
“Student learning isn’t possible if they aren’t present – physically, mentally, and emotionally,” said Dan Gohl, Chief Academic Officer of Broward County Public Schools.
This new phase of School is Cool aims to break the cycle of isolation for struggling students and move them toward success in school – and in life.The earlier work between the Foundation and the District showed that lower performing students are often isolated, and isolation leads to alienation. The students then begin to resent school because it’s a constant reminder of their academic challenges and troubled peer relationships. Unaddressed, this can lead to self-destructive behavior and social issues, of which we are now all too familiar following the Parkland tragedy earlier this year.
Individual learning plans will be created for each student, so they get the personalized attention they desperately need. Isolation and disengagement will be addressed through peer-to-peer mentoring, enhanced connections with teachers and counselors, and involvement in external activities through connections with Broward nonprofits.
The District will continue to refine this approach over the next three years with the goal to self-fund and roll-out the initiative to all of Broward’s middle schools. By 2021, the way middle school education is delivered in Broward will be forever changed – for the better. This is game changing!
About Community Foundation of Broward:
Founded in 1984, Community Foundation of Broward helps families, individuals, and corporations create personalized charitable Funds that deliver game-changing philanthropic impact. We provide leadership on community solutions, and foster philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter. Our 450 charitable Funds represent $180 million in assets and have distributed $100 million to help Broward BE GREATER.
For more information about the Community Foundation of Broward, visit www.cfbroward.org or call 954-761-9503.