Linda E. Lee and J. Bradley Cousins
In the spring of 1991, the Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundation (hereafter called the foundation) launched an initiative designed to support the development and implementation of innovative, school-based projects. After a lengthy research and consultation process, the foundation determined that the most effective way to encourage positive change in secondary education was to support innovation at the school level. The province of Manitoba was targeted as the site for the initial phases of the foundation's program.
In order to apply for funding, school staff members were encouraged to work collaboratively to develop a project or program which would address the needs of identified 'at-risk' student populations. Their proposals were to focus on changes which would affect fundamental aspects of the teaching and learning process. The foundation was interested in supporting changes in classroom methodology and school structure, rather than in establishing computer labs or purchasing other material supports for schools.
Schools received both 'in-person' and financial assistance for the preparation of their proposals. The foundation's Manitoba program coordinator and a designated evaluation consultant (first author) were available to schools. Schools could also receive funding (up to $800.00) to buy teacher release time so that classroom teachers would have the opportunity to be involved in the process of proposal development. It was anticipated that schools would propose projects of three to five years in length, allowing sufficient time for them to embed changes in to their organization and culture. By the autumn of 1992, a total of eight schools had received grant money from the foundation and were at various stages of project implementation.
Authors' Note: This research was supported in part by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant # 410-92-0983). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the funding agencies.