The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) has announced $750,000 in pre-launch grants to help start five brand new middle and high schools that will open in the Fall of 2012. The money will be divided in $150,000 lots between the five organizations developing the school. The developers would also be eligible for another $300,000 in matching grants to support their launch of new, blended whole-school models that will help students, especially low-income students and students of color, develop skills and knowledge to be successful in postsecondary education and the workforce. These grants come part of the first of three cycles of funding in NGLC’s $12 million third investment wave. This “third wave” looks to support fundamentally redesigned and scalable learning models that effectively use technology to increase college readiness and completion while maintaining affordability to students and to the education system, says a press release. “Wave III grantees must clearly demonstrate that their instructional models incorporate technology to personalize students’ learning experiences and their business models can support sustainable expansion or adoption plans.” In this first cycle, NGLC is awarding five grants at the secondary level. These grants go to - Alpha Public Schools, the first of a network of charter schools serving East San Jose, CA. KIPP Chicago’s KIPP Create College Prep Middle School in Chicago Leadership Public Schools opening LPS Oakland, Touchstone Education Newark Prep Charter School in New Jersey University of Southern California, who is opening USC Hybrid High School in Los Angeles. Ira Fuchs, NGLC Executive Director, said: We were very pleased to see the high quality of responses to this RFP. The laser-like focus on student success, including a major emphasis on college and career readiness, coupled with smart and sound strategic and financial planning for long-term growth and success signals the commitment that these organizations are making to students and the communities they will serve.” Wave III funding will also be awarded in two more cycles – with secondary and postsecondary institutions able to apply. Wave IIIa, Breakthrough Models for College Readiness seeks whole-school solutions that aim to radically improve student performance across grades 6-12. Wave IIIb, Breakthrough Models for College Completion will identify innovations that stimulate the development of new, next generation online and blended programs that lead to the highest quality associate or bachelor degrees. Fuchs said: “NGLC seeks to support and accelerate technology-enhanced solutions that change the way education is designed and delivered. “We know that, around the nation, technological tools are transforming students’ ability to master concepts and basic knowledge at their own pace, giving educators more time to focus on one-on-one learning. We see from these grantees, as well as the proposals coming in for cycle two, that there are visionary leaders with groundbreaking ideas capable of transforming education and dramatically improving outcomes for disadvantaged students. We’re eager to provide additional support and thinking to help them succeed.” Funding for Wave III comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.