bill and melinda gates foundation

Gates Foundation and Citizen Schools Using Digital Courseware to Improve Education

BOSTON – October 24, 2016 – Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that extends the learning day for students in lower income communities, will continue piloting and evaluating digital courseware to learn more about how best to integrate technology into Expanded Learning Time (ELT) for middle school students, thanks to a continued grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The $250,000 grant continues the foundation’s support for the pilot program Citizen Schools launched last year. More than 1,000 students from public school districts across the country will take part in this program.  Data gathered at the sites will examine barriers to experimentation with digital courseware and continue exploring ways to improve product efficacy.

“We at Citizen Schools look forward to continuing the important work of evaluating digital courseware,” said Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools. “We are in the unique position of being able to offer feedback from expanded learning sites across the country as well as offer constructive product improvement ideas based on what our students and staff learn. We appreciate the commitment the Gates Foundation has once again shown to students facing socio-economic challenges both at home and during their school day.”

Citizen Schools is offering resources and coaching at the pilot sites to facilitate planning and execution of the product testing. Year two of the pilot will include more targeted training for front-line program staff, and an emphasis on applying data gleaned from using from the digital courseware to drive academic support strategy.

The locations included in this program are:


  • Joseph George School in San Jose


  • Carter School in Chicago
  • Woodson School in Chicago


  • Wright School in Chelsea
  • Browne School in Chelsea

New York:

  • Academy for Future Leaders in New York City
  • Renaissance School of the Arts in New York City
  • Isaac Newton Middle School in New York City
  • Global Tech Prep in New York City
  • Urban Assembly Unison School in New York City


  • Sugar Grove Academy in Houston

The grant also supports Citizen Schools’ ongoing participation in the Learning Assembly, a national network of organizations piloting and evaluating ed-tech innovations with schools across the country. Citizen Schools will report learning-to-date from the pilot project as part of a panel discussion during the upcoming iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, Oct. 25-28 in San Antonio, TX.


Media Contact:

Darcie Fisher Ellis Strategies, Inc. | 774-281-3506

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit