Gates Foundation funds NC's New Schools

$10.4 billion will expand science-focused high school program designed to meet needs of employers

North Carolina schools have recently received a giant financial boost to develop areas such as biotechnology and information technology. The $10.4 million award from the Bill Gates Foundation, coupled with the $11 million award given three years ago, will allow North Carolina to expand its New Schools project.

The New Schools project includes 41 new high school campuses, designed for less than 400 students each. The campuses are academically rigorous, each with a different focus: biotechnology, information technology, international studies, and a variety of math, science, and engineering-based career paths, reports eSchool news.

"We go out into the business community and ask: 'What do you need from our high school graduates that you are not getting?' " Gov. Mike Easley said. "We have to be a lot more nimble and flexible than we have been in the past."

Some of the money will be used to build 150 reformed high schools and to expand Easley's Learn and Earn program, which gives students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma along with an associate's degree or college credit.

"There is not a state in the country that has better and broader leadership from the business community, the teachers' association, and higher education," said Tom Vander Ark, executive director of education for the Gates Foundation. "The good news is, we're going to keep coming back. We intend to be a long-term partner here."

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