Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide
Educational Opportunity and Scholarship

More and Better Learning Time

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The goal of this work is to reinvent public schools through more and better learning time in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, so that students are prepared equitably for college, career and civic participation.

The Challenge

The U.S. public education system's six-hour school day and 180-day school year do not provide enough time to prepare young people to succeed in the 21st century. Promising innovations in curriculum, teaching, accountability and technology are constrained by the traditional school clock and calendar.

While many families invest in additional instruction in a broad array of subjects and personalized support outside of school, children in communities of poverty are left on the sidelines, only widening the gaps in opportunity and achievement that threaten the nation's future. These young people need more opportunities to learn and be safe in the idle, at-risk hours after school and during the long summer months.

In response to these challenges, hundreds of schools around the nation have adopted expanded learning schedules and are achieving impressive results. Change is underway, but these ad hoc efforts are not nearly enough.

What We're Doing

Our work seeks to make more and better learning time the "new normal" in American education in underserved communities by matching the school day and year to the learning needs of students and the lives of working families. We support efforts to replicate what works, creating systems of schools that:

  • Provide additional hours of academic instruction, a well-rounded 21st-century curriculum and more personalized learning relationships with adults
  • Integrate traditional schooling with after-school, out-of-school, and anytime/anywhere learning opportunities
  • Redesign how the work of students, teachers and community partners is organized

Our strategy is to spread robust ideas and evidence, generate public will and build system capacity to achieve the following:

  • Federal, state and local policies that support expanded and redesigned learning time in schools that serve the nation's most vulnerable young people
  • Compelling examples of systemic and sustained implementation of more and better learning time in communities of concentrated poverty

We work with national, state and local partners to provide durable evidence, create powerful examples and advocate for supportive policies. We also support parents, community groups, educators and others in New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and the metropolitan Denver region who are creating systems of schools in impoverished neighborhoods with more and better learning time.

Learn more about how our strategies and approaches shape our grant making.

What We're Following

  • Reimagining the School Day Wallace Foundation report summarizes outcomes of a national forum on education where there was a growing interest in extended learning time
  • Time Well Spent National Center on Time & Learning examines key practices of expanded learning schools that can lead to increased student achievement and success
  • Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness Center for American Progress report on the value of teacher performance assessments
  • More Time for Learning Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time initiative's progress report on school reform efforts and the impact nationwide 3 MB




  • Frederick James Frelow
  • Sanjiv Rao

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