Albertson Foundation Offers $5 Million To Create A Public School With A Corporate Twist

Feb 5, 2013

Students at Brooklyn's P-TECH do what's known as project based learning. Corporate Partner IBM exec. Stanley Litow says they work on long term projects in small groups like designing a tablet computer. Then in math class for example, they might work on budgeting for R&D, manufacture, marketing and distribution.

This week the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced it would give up to $5 million to create a new school that would be unique in Idaho.

If you want this money you’ll have to hurry. The foundation wants a letter of intent by early March and a finished proposal by April. You'll need to coordinate with at least three organizations, a school district, a college or university, and a business. The school the foundation envisions would be a partnership between all three. But executive director Jamie MacMillan says she hopes there are already groups ready to go.

“We’ve met with a lot of higher education institutions in the state, many districts and included their feedback in the RFP process,” she says.

That RFP, the proposals MacMillan is requesting, are to start a school modeled after one in Brooklyn New York. It’s called P-TECH, Pathways in Technology Early College High School. IBM vice president Stanley Litow calls it a grades 9-14 school. career readiness

“Where every student proceeds over a six year period to get a high school diploma, an associate’s degree in either computer science or applied science, and a commitment that they’re first in line for jobs at IBM,” he says.

IBM is a partner in P-TECH along with the New York Public Schools system and the City University of New York. Each student has an IBM mentor and theoretically there will be no break between high school and college. Theoretically because the school has only operated for a year and a half, and only has 9th and 10th graders so far.

“We’re not at the 14th grade yet and we’re not ready to declare victory on this model but the results are incredibly encouraging,” Litow says.

He adds those results include improved reading skills and a much higher level of student and parent engagement than the city has seen before in the neighborhood where the school is located. The early results were so promising he says, that Chicago’s school system and city colleges opened five P-TECH schools this fall with IBM and other companies.

The Albertson Foundation wants Idaho’s first P-TECH school to open in the fall of 2014.