Ford Foundation Supports Unique Education Grant

The Time for Innovative Matters in Education (TIME) Collaborative, supported by the Ford Foundation and National Center on Time and Learning (NCTL), wants to close the student achievement gap by extending school by 300 hours a year and is offering competitive grants to achieve its goal.

Competitive grants will be provided for schools to increase time for learning core subjects and activities including hands-on, music, art, physical education, and for teachers to receive professional development. Grants will be implemented for five years, with the last two years of funding contingent on schools meeting the goals determined for the first three years. TIME Collaborative also hopes to increase parent and community participation, and to build relationships with universities, civil rights organizations, healthcare institutions, community centers, and after-school and summer programs.

The program’s sponsors believe the initiative is a unique way to reform the education system. Adding 300 hours to a school year will enable teachers to cover more material in depth and could help reduce the emphasis currently placed on standardized testing. Students living in poverty will have an opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, which will give them an advantage in increasing their personal learning.

Jeannie Oakes, director of the Ford Foundation’s education program, said it is impossible to add the benefits of extracurricular activities to the classroom. Increasing the amount of time for activities in the classroom is the next best option for the high poverty students.

The initiative will be piloted in select schools in September in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee. In the pilot stages, the program is expected to affect 20,000 students who receive free or reduced lunches. The Ford Foundation will be giving NCTL $3 million per year to help with technical assistance and to provide a coordinator for each state.

It is too soon to tell how effective it will be, but overall, the TIME Collaboration seems to be a positive addition to school systems in high poverty areas.