Steve Jobs’ Widow Gives 2 Los Angeles Teachers $10,000,000 to Start School for Homeless and Foster Kids

Laurene Powell Jobs will provide Kari Croft, 29, and Erin Whalen, 26, with $10 million to start an experimental school for homeless and foster children.

Erin Whalen and Kari Croft
Erin Whalen and Kari Croft Twitter

Two teachers in Los Angeles—Kari Croft, 29, and Erin Whalen, 26—have won $10 million in XQ: The Super School Project, a high-school-redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, according to the Los Angeles Times. The school will be geared to homeless and foster children.

RISE, the name of the project, stands for Revolutionary Individualized Student Experience. The idea is to have three or four different sites sharing a space with already existing nonprofits as well as an online learning system. In addition, there will be a “mobile resource center”—a bus that will bring Wi-Fi, a washer-dryer and homework help to the students who are most in need. This way students will always have different ways of getting tutoring or access to the day’s lesson if they are not able to get to school on a given day.

While there is still much work to do, the plan is to open up a charter school next fall with a small group of students and eventually to expand to between 500 and 550 pupils, with a student-teacher ratio of 25-to-1.

RISE is one of 10 projects around the country that won $10 million through the competition; more than 700 teams applied.

According to the Times, Croft, who has taught at schools in L.A., noticed that students were continuing to fall behind because their housing situations caused a lot of them not to be able to get to school each day.

“We started to realize that … the traditional school setting that we were both working in was really limiting,” said Croft, who met Whalen while they were both working for Teach for America. “They were getting penalized for missing the full range of services they needed.”

RISE will operate year-round, taking into consideration those who have to work or help provide for their families. Students will also receive personal learning plans on what they need to work on specifically. Teachers will be trained to help students who have experienced trauma.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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