Aug. 11, 2010

Diplomas Now Wins $30 Million Education Department Grant

The U.S. Department of Education’s Investing In Innovation (i3) Fund
Ranks School Turnaround Initiative Among 15 Winners of Validation Grants

Baltimore, MD–August 11, 2010 – The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (referred to as i3) gave its “highest ranking” to the Talent Development – Diplomas Now application from the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University in partnership with City Year, Communities In Schools, and 14 school districts.

The application is among one of 15 highest-rated applications in the Validation category of the i3 competition, which had more than 1,700 applicants. The priority area for the Diplomas Now application was “persistently low-performing schools.”

Diplomas Now is a partnership of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools/Talent Development, City Year, and Communities In Schools.

PepsiCo Foundation is the founding investor of Diplomas Now, granting $11 million since 2008. Through PepsiCo, the partnership has secured the 20% matching funds required by the Department of Education for the grant to be formally awarded.

Diplomas Now is a school turnaround model that unites three experienced non-profit organizations to work with the nation’s most-challenged middle and high schools to increase the number of students who graduate from high school.

The funding will allow Diplomas Now to grow to an additional 60 middle and high schools in 14 school districts, to serve an anticipated 57,000 additional students.

During the 2009-2010 school year, Diplomas Now worked in schools in the School District of Philadelphia, New Orleans-Recovery School District, the San Antonio Independent School District, the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago’s Union Park High Schools, and the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the program will expand to Seattle Public Schools, Miami-Dade County (Fla.)Public Schools, the District of Columbia Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, and the Richland County School District One of Columbia, S.C.

Diplomas Now is rooted in research from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools and the Philadelphia Education Fund that identified three predictive dropout indicators: low attendance, poor behavior, and course failure in English or math. In partnership with school administrators and teachers, Diplomas Now works to eliminate these early warning indicators through whole school reform (Talent Development), integrated student supports (Communities In Schools) and deploying national service members as full-time tutors, mentors and role models (City Year AmeriCorps members).


Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education (from DOE release):
“All across America, innovative entrepreneurs are finding solutions to our most pressing educational challenges. i3 will support creative thinkers who test good ideas and take proven approaches to scale so that more children can benefit.”

Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer and chairman of PepsiCo Foundation:
“As the founding investor in Diplomas Now, The PepsiCo Foundation is especially pleased by the Department of Education’s decision to validate the innovative and groundbreaking program with its prestigious i3 grant. We believe in the promise of Diplomas Now, and know that this grant will enable the program to make a difference in the lives of our nation’s youth on a scale that has not been attainable before.”

Robert Balfanz, senior researcher and director, Talent Development secondary and the Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University:
“This i3 grant is a tremendous vote of confidence in an innovation that shows great promise. To solve the dropout crisis, we need a game-changing strategy, one that is strong enough and broad enough to turn around the most-challenged schools. With its research base, the proven track records of our three organizations and the commitment of more adults to schools, Diplomas Now is such a strategy. We are grateful to the PepsiCo Foundation for its early and continuing support, including the matching funds that will help us expand Diplomas Now, giving new hope to some of the country’s most high-risk students.”

Daniel J. Cardinali, President, Communities In Schools:
“The Diplomas Now partnership of Talent Development, City Year and Communities In Schools is a highly innovative approach to school turnaround in some of the nation’s most challenged middle and high schools. Communities In Schools is pleased to bring our evidence-based approach to integrated student services to this partnership, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to serve more students through the i3 Validation award.”

Jim Balfanz, President, City Year:
“The success of Diplomas Now demonstrates the power of collaboration – our work with our partners and with schools across the country brings a new approach to school turnaround that yields results. The i3 Validation award will help us work with more schools and cities to ensure that all students receive the necessary supports to graduate ready for college and a career.”

For more information

Alison Franklin

City Year

857. 277.2240

Jennifer Ryan



Mike Bento

Communities In Schools


Mary Maushard

Talent Development