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Historically Black Colleges and Universities To Mentor New Blended Middle/High Schools

An organization that partners with historically black colleges and universities is shifting its attention to K-12 in an initiative that will push its member institutions to help in the creation of new secondary "feeder" schools that will in turn offer both online and in-person courses.

The partnership brings together the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), its 47 members--all public institutions--and Connections Education, a Pearson company. The goal will be to create a network of free public schools with a college preparation focus for grades 6 through 12 to serve minority or otherwise underserved students.

The new schools, all located on or near the campuses of the College Fund's member-schools, will be known as "TMCF Collegiate Academies." The colleges will support the schools not only with physical space on campus in some cases, but also with professional development and student teacher placement. Their curriculum will consist of content from Pearson and McGraw-Hill, as well as other instructional tools and resources from Connections Education, which runs a number of virtual schools and programs for districts and schools.

Students who are graduated with a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average from the new schools will be eligible to receive college scholarships from the College Fund. Plans call for the first school to appear in the 2014-2015 school year. The partners anticipate opening as many as 10 Collegiate Academies in the next five years.

In addition, the partnership heralds a new program that will spotlight alumni who have come out of the College Fund's member institutions and other notable African Americans through a web-based series of leadership sessions. These will be made available to Connections Education's schools, which include virtual public schools and Nexus Academy-branded blended public schools.

"This is the first time in our 25-year history we have made such a major commitment to secondary school education, and we are really excited to partner with the e-learning pioneer Connections Education to bring TMCF Collegiate Academies to the communities we serve," said Johnny Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the College Fund. "These schools deliver a totally new educational choice to students who need innovative options to develop their talents and skills. But beyond creating new schools, this partnership helps us achieve our core mission on several levels. We're helping our member-schools with student retention and graduation, by making sure students are ready for college-level work from day one and have the tools to fulfill their dreams. And we're creating an exciting new professional pipeline for our member-school students and alumni that truly exemplifies our slogan of 'Where education pays off.'"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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