Nellie Mae Education Foundation
In an effort to help transform the traditional American high school for the 21st century and ensure that the academic performance and educational attainment of every student in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont will be competitive with their peers worldwide, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England focusing exclusively on education, has committed more than $2 million—which includes a $1 million in partnership grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—to support the New England Secondary School Consortium.
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest charitable organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels across New England. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a three-part strategy that focuses on: developing and enhancing models of practice; reshaping education policies; and increasing public understanding and demand for high quality educational experiences. The Foundation's new initiative areas are: District Level Systems Change; State Level Systems Change; Research and Development; and Public Understanding. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $110 million in grants.
All New England's Learners Prepared for Success—Educationally, Economically and as Engaged Citizens
To stimulate transformative change of public education systems across New England by growing a greater variety of higher quality educational opportunities that enable all learners—especially and essentially underserved learners—to obtain the skills, knowledge and supports necessary to become civically engaged, economically self-sufficient life-long learners.
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is New England's largest public charity dedicated to preparing all the region's learners for success.
The Foundation and its precursors have been strategically investing in the future of New England since 1990. In that year, the Nellie Mae Corporation, a nonprofit education-financing company, created the Fund for Education, pioneering philanthropy within the student loan industry. Over the next eight years, the Fund for Education provided $5 million in grants and support to advance more than 300 education programs throughout the region. In 1998, the Nellie Mae Foundation was formed. The following year's purchase of Nellie Mae Corporation by Sallie Mae (SLM Holding Corporation) created the endowment for what is currently the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
Now unaffiliated with the Corporation, the Foundation is currently a leader in advancing the implementation of student-centered learning models and build public support for education reform in communities throughout New England.
From 2000 until 2007, the Foundation invested in efforts to improve adult literacy, provide college preparation, and reduce the achievement gap. In 2008, the Foundation realigned its strategic funding priorities. While continuing to provide grants and technical assistance for strategies that support underserved learners, it did so with an additional focus on building knowledge about how to dramatically improve outcomes. The change in strategic direction led to a re-examining of long-held assumptions about the way students are educated--what they are taught, when, where, how, and by whom.
Based on new research on adolescent development and cognitive science, as well as knowledge obtained from the Foundation's investments in the region, our strategic focus has now shifted to where we believe we can best prepare New England for the challenges it will face in the future: promoting student-centered learning at the middle and high school levels across the region.
As of March 2010, the Foundation's work focuses primarily on the promotion and implementation of developmentally appropriate, rigorous, year-round, student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels.