PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $150,000 by Barr Foundation to Put Success within Reach of All Students

PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $150,000 by Barr Foundation to Put Success within Reach of All Students

June 26, 2019


Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $150,000 by Barr Foundation to Put Success within Reach of All Students


Holyoke, MA – This week, the Holyoke Public School District was named one of four new grantees in the Barr Foundation Education Program’s Engage New England: Doing high school differently initiative. Together, they form the third cohort of educators participating in a multi-year initiative to open doors to rigorous, personalized education so that more young people have real opportunities to thrive. Holyoke Public Schools received a planning grant of $150,000 over one year for the redesign of the high school experience at Holyoke High School.


The Barr Foundation’s Engage New England: Doing high school differently initiative is a $30 million investment over five years to help New England innovators redesign existing high schools and bring new school models to life in their communities. Participants receive one-year planning grants and technical assistance with design and planning, with the potential to be invited to apply for implementation grants of up to $750,000 over two years. Participants also become partners in a learning community, to share and learn from like-minded peers across the region. Together, they are doing high school differently by building a diverse set of school models that expand student success.


“We’re thrilled and grateful that the Barr Foundation is supporting the critical high school redesign work we’re doing on behalf of students, and connecting us to partners engaged in related efforts,” said Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent/ Receiver Dr. Stephen Zrike, Jr.  “Ensuring that all of our students, particularly students who are off track, are able to connect to success during and after high school creates real progress for the Holyoke Public Schools.”


Intentionally designed around the principles of positive youth development theory, schools supported under this initiative will be as rigorous as they are flexible in developing content knowledge, successful habits, creative know-how and navigation abilities—the integrated elements that are essential for today’s students to connect to success in high school, college, career and community.


“This partnership brings together a diverse group of educators who share the belief that all students can meet high expectations when their schools engage their interests, empower their potential and fully prepare them for success in life,” said Leah Hamilton, the Barr Foundation’s Director of Education. “We are thrilled to include the Holyoke Public Schools in our third cohort of Engage New England: Doing high school differently grantees, and to support them in a planning process to refine their vision for a cohesive school model that address the unique needs of their students and community.”


New England’s schools have done a good job for many students. Engage New England: Doing high school differently is one of the Barr Foundation’s many efforts to make sure we do a great job for all.


About Holyoke Public Schools


Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) serves close to 5,500 students. The district is comprised of eight elementary schools (Donahue, Kelly, Lawrence, McMahon, Metcalf, Morgan, Sullivan, E.N. White), three middle schools (Peck, Holyoke STEM Academy, Veritas Prep Holyoke) and one high school with two campuses (Holyoke High School North and Dean Campuses).  Eight schools contain PreK classrooms.


Holyoke Public Schools has designed multiple pathways of excellence where all students graduate prepared to excel in college, career and community leadership.  The district is expanding choices for students through innovative programs, community initiatives and university partnerships that help students develop a wide range of skills and interests and explore college and career options.  HPS students learn to become effective communicators, critical thinkers, engaged and productive community members, and mindful individuals.  The district offers students the opportunity to graduate with additional credentials that expand their college and career options.


About the Barr Foundation


The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets of $1.8 billion, and has contributed more than $911 million to charitable causes. For more information, visit




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