Learning Forward, a nonprofit membership association of learning educators headquartered in Oxford, Ohio, has announced a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help boost high school graduation rates nationwide.

The organization will use the grant to continue providing support to states adopting and implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS), as well as to create an iPD (innovative professional development) solution to help educators at the state and district levels audit their professional learning and use the results to improve decision making and practices.

Through its Transforming Professional Learning to Prepare College- and Career-Ready Students initiative, the organization aims to create a comprehensive multi-tier, multiyear plan that stages professional development at the state and district level in alignment with CCSS implementation. Kentucky, which will serve as the initiative’s demonstration state, will review its current policies, expenditures, and initiatives to identify gaps and opportunities in CCSS implementation and prepare students for college and careers. In addition, six “critical friend” states — Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington — will contribute to the development of an enhanced professional learning framework in Kentucky and will have access to all processes, resources, and tools developed there for their own use.

“Learning Forward shares the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment to increase the number of students who graduate from high school career and college ready,” said Learning Forward executive director Stephanie Hirsh. “We look forward to working with the foundation to support the professional learning and its infrastructure necessary for full implementation of CCSS.”

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