The Gates Foundation is planning to fund school networks. In fact, over the next five years they expect to commit $1.7 billion to K-12. 60% of which will be devoted to curriculum development as well as a new network building initiative. 15% will be directed to charter schools. The remaining 25% of the total funding will be focused on “big bets” that could have the potential of changing the trajectory of public education over the next several years. School networks are basically extended learning communities that work to link schools in an area together. Schools benefit greatly from being part of a network as they are able to receive help from each other when it comes to developing their teaching and learning practices. They are also able to share resources as well as news with each other.

Bill Gates sited three examples of school networks in his announcement speech in front of the Council of Great City Schools:

  1. the Network for College Success,
  2. California’s CORE Districts, and
  3. Tennessee’s Lift Education.

“The three Gates examples include an intra-district network, a cross-district network and a small state-wide network. The Network for College Success is a group of 15 Chicago schools that use cross-school learning communities and job-embedded coaching to collaborate on preparing all students for college and career success. The CORE Districts are eight large urban districts that banded together in 2010 to help each other implement the Common Core. They have since focused on cross-district collaboration to design and implement a comprehensive school improvement and accountability system using multiple measures of achievement. Tennessee’s Lift Education is made up of 12 superintendents from diverse districts across the state that are committed to student-centered leadership and work together to explore innovative approaches and share best practices.” ~ Anne Wujcik


The Gates Foundation plans to initially support around 30 school networks. They will begin with high needs schools and districts in 6 to 8 states. Teams of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching, data collection and analysis will back each network. The foundation will leave it up to the networks when it comes to deciding which approaches will work best to address their biggest challenges.

To learn more, you can click here to read Anne Wujcik’s article in full.