Friday, January 20, 2006—The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) received a $200,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The “Redesigning the American High School Initiative grant”, will be used to support NAACP high school reform initiatives and to promote efforts to increase high school graduation rates for African American youth.  

The NAACP will be working with the foundation and the National Governor’s Association (NGA) National Constituent Group to implement a national awareness campaign consisting of education and policy focused Capitol Hill briefings, guest speaker series, and “stay in school” events. The partnership will also produce regional and national education symposiums to develop strategies for increasing high school graduation rates.  

Dr. Nicole Francis-Williams, NAACP Interim National Education Director, said, “The NAACP looks forward to this partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the NGA and we are serious about increasing graduation rates for African American students. Our Education department plans to actively impact strategies designed to increase teacher quality and improve school governance. Due to our ability to expand partnerships and utilize expertise in education, research and policy we will play an even more integral role in positively shaping the future for minority students and parents who depend on the NAACP to be their advocates.”

According to the Manhattan Institute, nearly one of every three public high school students fails to graduate. Forty-four percent of African American students will not graduate with their class. Of those who do graduate, most leave school without the skills they need to succeed in college, work, and citizenship.

Jim Shelton, Program Director of Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “Through this partnership with the NAACP, we will strengthen the support for innovative efforts to provide African American students with the education they need to graduate from high school ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”