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The Rapides Foundation Is Bringing High School Redesign To The Forefront Of Cenla’s Education Agenda

The Education Trust And The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Took Part In The Foundation's First High School Summit

Alexandria, LA – Education leaders across the country are calling for the transformation of the traditional comprehensive high school into a 21st century learning institution that supports college and workforce success for all students and The Rapides Foundation is answering the call.

On October 25 the Foundation hosted its first High School Summit to discuss national, state and regional programs focused on High School Redesign. Education experts from around the nation and the state participated in workshops with over 200 Central Louisiana community and business leaders addressing a wide range of issues confronting high schools. Wednesday, October 26 marked day two of the event when national and state experts participate in workshops with close to 300 Central Louisiana school and district educators.

The keynote speaker was Kati Haycock, Executive Director of The Education Trust in Washington, D.C. Ms. Haycock is working closely with state governors in projecting the agenda for better high schools before the nation. She is the person recruited by our own Governor Kathleen Blanco to help chart the direction for Louisiana. Another key presenter was Jennifer Vranek, Senior Policy Officer for Education Advocacy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. The Gates Foundation has been in the forefront of ground-breaking work in remaking high school education across the nation.

Education professionals, business and community representatives attended this two-day event. “Redesigning high schools will be one of the most important issues our Foundation tackles in the next five years and we are ready for Central Louisiana to lead the state with innovative efforts – to make Louisiana a shining example for the rest of the country," said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation.

The Education Initiative is a long standing program of The Rapides Foundation. Since its founding in 1998 to present this program has evolved from individual five year grants totaling close to $10 million to 111 schools – to the now Systemic Initiative grants – working with all public school districts in the service area. Strong public education systems play a vital role in creating healthy communities. The Foundation dedicates 30% of its funding to education.

Other featured panelists included: Dr. Tony Habit, Executive Director of the New Schools Project in North Carolina, Nancy Sutton, Ed. S., Senior Fellow for the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) University of Indianapolis, Indiana and Dr. Lucretia Murphy, Senior Program Manager for Jobs for the Future in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college, and forever closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth. Their basic tenet is this – all children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels. Established in 1990 by the American Association for Higher Education as a special project to encourage colleges and universities to support K-12 reform efforts, The Education Trust is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to make schools and colleges work for all of the young people they serve.

The Rapides Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization that provides grants to organizations in a nine-parish service area in Central Louisiana including; Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn Parishes. The Foundation's mission is to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities in Cenla.
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