Press Release

AFT Congratulates Recipients of Gates Foundation Grants

For Release: 

Thursday, November 19, 2009


AFT Media Affairs

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers welcomes the unprecedented support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for efforts to improve teaching and learning through grants totaling $290 million to school systems in Hillsborough County, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Memphis; and a group of charter schools in Los Angeles.

“These Gates Intensive Partnership grants will show that when dedicated adults engage in true collaboration, the real winners are the students,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. She extended special congratulations to the teachers and staff in the Hillsborough County and Pittsburgh schools who are represented by the AFT. “The grants create an opportunity for teachers, administrators and their respective communities to shape the future of their schools for years to come,” Weingarten said.

Today’s announcement by the Gates Foundation is the culmination of a year-long competitive application process involving school systems across the nation. A process that encouraged cooperation between school management and teachers led to comprehensive plans for reform in the school systems receiving the grants.

“The Gates process is a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand – and then design and implement – systems that improve teaching and learning,” Weingarten said. “These districts, working with their unions and parents were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”

Each of the grant recipients will use the money, along with local funds, to support the development and implementation of innovations in effective teaching. Hillsborough County Public Schools, serving the Tampa area, will receive $100 million, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools will receive $40 million.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.