Press Release: Jobs for the Future Receives Research Development Grant from Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Published oct. 21, 2010

BOSTON, MA (October 21, 2010) — As part of its new strategic focus, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation has awarded a $700,000 grant to Jobs for the Future (JFF) to play a key role in building an emerging knowledge base on student-centered learning. The Foundation supports student-centered learning as an avenue to dramatically increase the educational achievement and attainment of all secondary students.

JFF will commission and oversee the development of at least six analytical research papers on topics that contribute to the field of student-centered learning. JFF will also support a learning community of researchers and practitioners to share knowledge and fill research gaps through several convenings and ongoing communication. 

“If we want to prepare all learners for success in postsecondary education, work and life, we must first build up understanding of the concepts around student-centered learning,” said Nicholas C. Donohue, president and CEO of Nellie Mae Education Foundation.  “We’re excited to partner with Jobs for the Future in this important effort.”

Student-centered approaches draw on the science of how people learn and are characterized by:  innovative uses of time; the inclusion of a wider variety of adults to complement teachers in all aspects of learning; the measurement of skills and mastery of content using a combination of performance-based assessments and traditional testing; an acknowledgement that learning takes place both in and out of the classroom; and a persistent focus on the needs and interests of learners.  In this type of educational experience, learning becomes the constant and the where, when, and how it happens — as well as who the adults are that facilitate it — become the variables.

“Developing schools, programs, and systems that support student-centered learning has long been a critical aspect of much of JFF’s work,” said Rebecca E. Wolfe, senior program manager at JFF and project director for the student-centered learning project.  “We are eager for this opportunity to collaborate with Nellie Mae Education Foundation to build the case for student-centered learning and expand current thinking and knowledge about education reform.”
Since March 2010, NMEF’s grant activity has focused on four strategic initiatives:

•  District Level Systems Change, which includes the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches in secondary schools, as well as policy and advocacy work at the district level.
•  State Level Systems Change, which focuses on promoting state and federal education policies that support student-centered learning at scale.
•  Research and Development, which not only informs the Foundation’s work, but also that of practitioners in the fields of education and  philanthropy.
•  Public Understanding, which aims to increase both awareness of student-centered experiences and the public will to implement them.

The research conducted under this project will inform the Foundation’s work in all four areas.  The project is jointly funded by the Foundation’s Research & Development Initiative and the State Level Systems Change Initiative.

About Nellie Mae Education Foundation
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest charitable organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels across New England. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a three-part strategy that focuses on: developing and enhancing models of practice; reshaping education policies; and increasing public  understanding and demand for high quality educational experiences. The Foundation’s new initiative areas are: District Level Systems Change; State Level Systems Change; Research and Development; and Public Understanding.  Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $110 million in grants. For more information about the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, visit


About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future works with our partners to design and drive adoption of education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today’s economy.
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