3/31/21 PRESS RELEASE – Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $750,000 from Barr Foundation

3/31/21 PRESS RELEASE – Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $750,000 from Barr Foundation

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release 

Holyoke Public Schools Awarded $750,000 from Barr Foundation 

Barr provides funding to support school leadership development. 

HOLYOKE, MA –- Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) is excited to announce receipt of a $750,000 grant award from the Barr Foundation to strengthen leadership development in the schools and district. HPS is partnering with Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay) and Veritas Prep for this initiative. 

“We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for their generous support and partnership,” stated Holyoke Public Schools Acting Receiver/Superintendent Anthony Soto. “We are also excited to include Veritas Prep Holyoke and Veritas Prep Charter School in Springfield as part of this collaboration. It is a wonderful opportunity for leaders in the region to learn from each other, as well as from other leaders across the country through the work with Relay as our leadership development partner.” 

Research shows that successful leadership plays a significant role in influencing student success. According to research funded by the Wallace Foundation, “Effective education leadership makes a difference in improving learning. It is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning.” 

“This multi-year grant provides us the opportunity to engage in the intentional district and school-level work designed to grow our instructional leaders in ways that produce increased academic achievement results for students, all students,” stated Chief of Schools Dr. Tiffani Curtis. 

Nearly fifty school-based and central office staff members, including principals, assistant principals, deans, directors and coaches, will be trained. Through professional development and coaching, leaders will receive the tools, support and mentoring to hone their skills, enrich the district’s culture and climate, and become more effective, impactful leaders for the years to come. 

“As a Principal who was born and raised in Holyoke and as a member of the steering committee, I am excited to work with Relay collaboratively to support our craft and build our leadership toolbox,” stated Sullivan School Principal Sacha Garcia-Mailloux. “HPS leaders are committed to high-quality education that is culturally responsive and equitable for each student in each school.” 

Veritas Chief of Academics Ashley Martin shared, “Our teachers and students deserve powerful and effective leadership, and we are thrilled to collaborate with HPS and Relay to develop high impact leaders for our schools.” 

“Every student deserves a high-quality education and school leadership plays a critical role in making that a reality,” said Kate Dobin, Senior Program Officer for Barr’s Education team. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Holyoke Public Schools and Veritas Prep as they strengthen instructional leadership in ways that support the achievement of all learners.”

About the Holyoke Public Schools 

Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) serves close to 5,300 students. The district has 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 three campuses (Holyoke High School North, Dean, and Opportunity Academy 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 $2 billion and has contributed more than $1 billion to charitable causes. For more information, visit barrfoundation.org or follow @BarrFdn. 

About Friends of Veritas 

Friends of VPCS is the affiliated non-profit supporting Veritas Prep Charter School (VPCS) and Veritas Prep Holyoke (VPH). VPCS was founded in Springfield in 2012 with the mission to prepare students in grades 5-8 to compete, achieve, and succeed in high school, college, and beyond. VPCS now serves 432 Springfield students and is one of Massachusetts’ top-performing middle schools. Building on the success of VPCS, Friends of Veritas Prep partnered with the Holyoke Public Schools, launching Veritas Prep Holyoke (VPH) in 2018 as part of Holyoke’s innovative turnaround efforts. VPH is a neighborhood enrollment school currently serving grades 5 and 6, growing one grade per year through grade 8. 

MEDIA CONTACTS 

HOLYOKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Judy Taylor, Director of Communications, jtaylor@hps.holyoke.ma.us BARR FOUNDATION: Stefan Lanfer, Director of Communications, slanfer@barrfoundation.org ### 

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