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Groups Announce Nearly U.S.$18 Million in Funding for Secondary Education

allAfricaChicago, IL, April 1, 2013 — A partnership of five philanthropic organizations announced today nearly $8 million in grants and a commitment of an additional $10 million in 2013 for innovative projects that will increase the participation, quality, and relevance of secondary education for economically disadvantaged and marginalized children in developing countries.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies Services, Human Dignity Foundation, and another funder are growing their collaboration through the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education, issuing a second call for proposals to support innovative initiatives that provide learning opportunities and life and livelihood skills for underserved youth between the ages of 12 and 19 in East Africa, Nigeria, and India.

The Partnership was announced in 2012, and received more than 500 submissions in response to its first call for proposals from groups working in secondary education around the world. Nearly $8 million was provided by the partnership in support of 19 projects, exceeding its original commitment of $5 million. See below for a complete list of the grantmaking.

The partners formed the collaboration on the well-demonstrated premise that secondary school education is measurably associated with positive effects on health, wellbeing, and productivity.

Yet secondary education remains scarce in the developing world, particularly for marginalized girls, a focus of the MacArthur Foundation’s grantmaking. Girls with higher levels of education marry later, have smaller families, survive childbirth at higher rates, experience reduced incidences of HIV/AIDs, have children more likely to survive to age five, earn more, and contribute to higher rates of economic growth at the national level.

“Education beyond primary school remains out of reach for millions of children, especially girls,” said Barry Lowenkron, Vice President of International Programs for the MacArthur Foundation. “Low- and middle-income countries have a tremendous opportunity to pull citizens out of poverty by educating girls to the same standards as boys. We are looking for fresh thinking about providing quality secondary education, so that every child has a chance at living a fulfilled life and contributing to his or her local community and our global society.”

“Secondary education is a vital tool of social transformation, as it is the bridge that connects young women and men to better futures, either in higher education or the workforce,” said Deepali Khanna, Director of Youth Learning at The MasterCard Foundation. “This initiative will bring new thinking and innovative ideas to our shared effort to empower young people to break cycles of poverty and be able to learn and prosper.”

In 2013, the collaborating organizations will focus on funding projects that pilot new approaches, bring to scale successful models, and research critical questions about how to innovate in secondary education. Four thematic areas of interest have been identified: increasing demand for secondary-level learning, improving teacher skills, promoting employment-relevant skills, and promoting alternative education models. Collectively, projects will effect immediate change in communities where pilot programs are conducted and will contribute to a growing base of evidence on secondary education. Projects supported will emphasize evaluation to document clearly what works and the integration of the use of technology in education in developing countries, as well as the delivery of secondary education in conflict-affected populations.

The partners were brought together as early supporters of A Global Compact on Learning, a policy agenda for access to education and quality learning in the developing world, coordinated by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education. The report informed the UN Secretary General’s five-year Global Education First Initiative, which seeks to refocus international attention on quality, relevant, and inclusive education for children at all levels and that aims to enroll an additional 61 million students worldwide by 2015. The Partnership was cited among the initial commitments to the Initiative at its launch at the 2012 UN General Assembly.

Details about the partnership’s 2013 call for proposals and the selection process are available at www.macfound.org/girlseducation.