Michael Bloomberg Gives $5 Million to OSI-Baltimore to Create Accelerated High School Options for Students

Baltimore—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is donating $5 million to the Open Society Institute–Baltimore for its Accelerated Pathways Initiative, an innovative approach that will offer Baltimore students the opportunity to accelerate their high school careers and connect to post-secondary education and employment, the foundation announced today. 

This five-year initiative will create rigorous, supportive and accelerated high school programs in Baltimore designed to increase graduation rates and post-secondary success, particularly for the city’s African-American male students.

“Mayor Bloomberg shares our deep commitment to ensure that all children have access to a challenging academic program and to the support they need to graduate and be prepared for successful futures,” said Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore and acting executive director of the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs. 

“We are enormously grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for this gift enabling us to partner with Dr. Alonso and City Schools to bring new education models to Baltimore,” she said.

The gift from Mayor Bloomberg will support the development of the Accelerated Pathway Initiative over five years and will fund:

  • planning and start-up support for four of the Initiative's program sites;
  • mentoring and learning-to-work components at each site, to ensure that students have strong support and clear, expedited pathways to employment and post-secondary education; 
  • youth development activities at each site, to engage students and ignite their interest in rigorous preparation for future learning and work endeavors; and 
  • data analysis, to assess program needs and effectiveness.

Specifically, the Initiative will combine tailored academic programming with adult mentors, opportunities for paid work, and connections to post-secondary employment and education to accelerate students' progress to high school graduation. 

The Accelerated Pathway Initiative is a collaborative effort of OSI-Baltimore, the Baltimore City Public Schools, the Fund for Educational Excellence, and the Baltimore Education Research Consortium. 
The Initiative is designed to give students compelling evidence that staying engaged in school is valuable. The programs make substantial investments in supportive services, such as access to an advocate counselor, youth development activities that give students opportunities to shape their programs, college advising, job training and placement support, and opportunities to obtain paid employment. 

“Baltimore’s high school graduation rate has improved in recent years, but is still far too low. Many of our youth face economic hardship and would benefit from programs that allow them to move more quickly through high school and connect them directly to college and work opportunities,” said Jane Sundius, Director of the Education and Youth Development Program for OSI-Baltimore. “The Accelerated Pathway Initiative is an innovative approach that we believe will help many more kids stick with school and see that a promising future is within their reach. Mayor Bloomberg’s gift will make these opportunities a reality.”

OSI-Baltimore staff are also working hand-in-hand with Bloomberg Philanthropies on a parallel high school improvement effort in New York City. The Expanded Success Initiative aims to improve the college and career readiness of young men of color and is a part of the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative. 

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Open Society Institute-Baltimore was started in 1998 by philanthropist George Soros as a laboratory to better understand and solve the most intractable problems facing urban America. OSI-Baltimore is a private operating foundation that focuses its work exclusively on the root causes of three intertwined problems – drug addiction, an over-reliance on incarceration and the obstacles that keep youth from succeeding inside and outside of the classroom. OSI-Baltimore also sponsors the Baltimore Community Fellows, now more than 100 members strong, who work to create opportunity and bring justice to people in the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. The office is part of the Open Society Foundations, which aims to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 70 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.