Below is a roundup highlighting some of the great work our grantees and Foundation staff accomplished in November 2019.


Last month, Indiana families had the opportunity to sign-up for Waterford UPSTART, a free online kindergarten-readiness program for low-income families. Computer and Internet access are available to families who currently lack them at home. 

Children enrolled in the program are taught early reading, math, and science through mixed methods, including instructional hours, lessons, activities, books, and animations. Each participant must follow their personalized learning path for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, the year before they enter kindergarten. The Batesville Tribune covers the full story.

Waterford UPSTART is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Family Connects

A nurse home visiting program in North Carolina supports families after childbirth and has seen positive outcomes. Image via GETTY IMAGES

Since 2008, when Family Connects launched its Durham pilot, more than 17,000 home visits have been paid by registered nurses. The program served families with newborns from all backgrounds, signing up parents-to-be while they were still in the hospital, weeks ahead of their first at-home nurse check-in. With more than a decade of data under their belts, the program is touting quantifiable impact which, proponents believe could be replicated across the country.

Two studies on the Durham pilot concluded that the program had an early impact on families: parents were connected more to community services, participating mothers had better mental health, and there were fewer trips to the emergency room for their babies. And in a more recent study published in JAMA Network Open, there was a correlation between program participants and lower rates of child abuse investigations. US News & World Report dives deeper into the findings.

Family Connects is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Khan Academy

First unveiled in June, NWEA and Khan Academy announced the general availability of MAP Accelerator—a new classroom tool that integrates MAP Growth assessments and Khan Academy—is now available for the 2020-2021 school year. The tool imports MAP Growth scores to generate personalized learning pathways with suggested goals on Khan Academy that teachers can review, accept, or adjust based on their interactions with the student. 

Several school districts are already participating. Pajaro Valley Unified School District, for example, is implementing MAP Accelerator with 4,000 students after utilizing Khan Academy for the past few years. They believe that the combination of Khan Academy and NWEA’s MAP Growth assessment will enable teachers to identify and support students who need extra attention or are ready to move ahead. 

“MAP Accelerator meets the individual needs of each student,” said Khan Academy Founder and CEO Sal Khan. “Our goal is to encourage every student to own their education while allowing their teachers to adjust learning goals based on what they know about each student.” More info on this story is available in Yahoo! Finance.

Khan Academy is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Bedtime Math

Girl at Chalkboard

Image via Shutterstock

The Cape May County Herald reports that In New Jersey’s Wildwood School District, Bedtime Math is launching FUN Factor, a suite of engaging activities for students K-5 that allow teachers to curate content that best serves each of their students’ needs. FUN Factor will build on Bedtime Math’s popular Crazy 8s Club games, like Glow-in-the-Dark Geometry and Firefighter Training. 

Bedtime Math will also be training teachers on how Fun Factor utilizes sound, research-backed approaches.

“For seven years, we’ve overhauled how kids think about math outside of the classroom,” said Bedtime Math founder Laura Overdeck. “Fun Factor is the natural evolution of that work. By presenting math inside the classroom in a fun, hands-on way, we can stoke student engagement and serve different styles of learners. This will help frustrated students catch up and lay the foundation for greater math achievement. We’re excited to bring these innovative math experiences to the Wildwood School District.” 

Bedtime Math is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Education Development Center

A new report examines The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!™, a PBS KIDS media platform based on the popular “The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library” book series. EDC and SRI International—the organizations responsible for the study—wanted to understand if and how access to media resources for children living in low-income households helps them learn critical science and engineering concepts.  The report found that The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! did have meaningful impacts on children between ages 4-5.

You can learn more about and download the report here.  

Education Development Center is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Leading Educators

Jessica Greer, math LEAP Leader at Truesdell Education Campus, at the first district-wide LEAP Summer Intensive, which Leading Educators supported

Jessica Greer, math LEAP Leader at Truesdell Education Campus, at the first district-wide LEAP Summer Intensive, which Leading Educators supported. Image via Jake Scott

For most teachers, a great deal of attention and conversation focuses on how well they teach students and very little about how they are taught themselves. Professional development is critical to every sector and Leading Educators, a New Orleans-based nonprofit, wants to change the way teachers access it through their innovative model of peer learning. In ten Tulsa schools, Leading Educators redesigned the daily schedules to help teachers find more time to interact with and learn from one another. Over the past few months, that has translated into an hour-and-a-half each week (up from 45 minutes) that teachers now have for collaboration. 

According to the 74, by preparing high-performing teachers to support their peers, Leading Educators is hoping to disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry.  

Leading Educators is a grantee in the Exceptional Educators portfolio.


With sponsorship from RAND Education and Labor, KnowledgeWorks recently completed a report analyzing the extent to which personalized, competency-based learning prepares today’s students for an uncertain future, and to provide useful insights regarding the short-and-long-term effects on student outcomes from the implementation of such learning. What they learned instead was that the question of impact is extremely complex.

The data in this report reflects some clear challenges as well as some bright spots. Visit KnowledgeWorks’ website to learn more about and download their report.  

KnowledgeWorks is a grantee in the Innovative Schools portfolio.

Afterschool Alliance


Image via Cities Speak

For many people—parents and students alike—having a school day that better aligns with the typical 8-5 workday would be beneficial, argues Jason D. King, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications & Marketing, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas. In his op-ed on Cities Speak, King says that children need additional opportunities to learn and develop skills through afterschool programs that offer things like homework help, mentorship, healthy food, a safe environment to meet friends, and access to training that may not fit within their regular curriculum, like computer programming.

Working together, Clear Channel Outdoor, the National League of Cities, the National Summer Learning Association, and the Afterschool Alliance support Lights On Afterschool, a national rally for high-quality afterschool programs. Recently celebrating its 20th anniversary, Lights on Afterschool “underscores what afterschool programs can achieve to improve children’s lives across the nation.” 

Afterschool Alliance is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Center for Talented Youth (CTY)

In November, Jonathan Plucker was named the president of the National Association for Gifted Children, reports the Johns Hopkins University Hub. Plucker, the Professor of Talent Development at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, will preside over the organization’s 16-member board of directors and set programming and services priorities for that support academically advanced students across the country. During his two-year term, Plucker aims to promote research, improve Hispanic students’ access to advanced learning opportunities, and prepare educators to recognize and support the needs of advanced students.

“So many students are far ahead of grade level but are just not getting any advanced services in school,” said Plucker. “If a huge percentage of students are going to school but aren’t learning something new every day—or even every week or month or year—that’s bad for the student, bad for our economy, and bad for our entire culture.” 

Center for Talented Youth (CTY) is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Nurse-Family Partnership

A leading peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published an 18-year follow-up of participants in a randomized, clinical trial of Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). The study found that Nurse-Family Partnership significantly improved the cognitive functioning and academic performance of children born to “high-risk mothers with limited psychological resources to cope with poverty,” reports Yahoo! Finance. Over that same 18 year period, an additional study found that the Nurse-Family Partnership saved the government nearly $20,000 per family in public benefit costs. 

Nurse-Family Partnership is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Foundation News

From L to R: Kris Ohleth (Ørsted), Maria Spina (PSEG Foundation), Kim Case (NJSPN/R&D Council), Gemma Lenowitz (Overdeck Family Foundation), and Rob Boyajieff (Siemens). Image via John O'Boyle

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the creation of the New Jersey STEM Strategic Advisory Board, reports New Jersey Business. Launched by the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN), the Board members include business and philanthropic leaders who will provide leadership and expertise for a statewide STEM vision in education and workforce. 

“Through collective impact, this Board will improve ROI by uniting business and philanthropic leaders to streamline charitable investments and breakdown silos for success in STEM education and workforce development programming,” said Governor Murphy.

Counting representatives from Bristol- Myers Squibb, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, Ørsted, Overdeck Family Foundation, PSEG Foundation, and Siemens, the Board will soon announce a competitive innovation fund that will allow potential grantees to apply for funding for their STEM initiatives.


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