Key Points

· This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students.

· The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans.

· Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were ultimately chosen to receive grants.

· The foundation worked closely with these districts over a three-year period.

· Based on this experience, three key design elements were identified: 1) Confine the initiative to a content area or target population, 2) Pay attention to geography, and 3) Encourage boundary-spanning.

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