Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner


September 5, 2013


To All Diplomas Now Staff,    


Welcome back to another exciting school year!


As we move into a new school year, the national executive team wants to express to the entire Diplomas Now family how grateful we are for the success you have achieved to date.


Our work is critical to the schools and the thousands of students we all serve, and it is becoming increasingly clear how potentially important our collaboration is to public education and the country at large. We have shown through our unique approach that Diplomas Now can project between 10 and 20 percentage point gains in graduation rates in schools with the greatest challenges. This is transformational change, the likes of which has never been witnessed at this scale.


We also know that we generate amazing impacts in individual schools-here are just a few examples:

  • In East Baton Rouge, all three Diplomas Now schools were removed from the state of Louisiana's academically unacceptable list.
  • Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio achieved the highest math proficiency rate in the district.
  • Clinton Middle School in Los Angeles increased the number of 8th graders who passed their algebra final exams by 28 percentage points.

The evidence for our model is clearly starting to mount, and our growing success is a testament not just to your expert implementation, but your belief in the potential of our students and the staff who work with them.


We also want to commend you all for the time, effort and creativity you have demonstrated in continuing to refine our approach based on the ever-evolving realities and opportunities before us. Because of your continued flexibility and ongoing success, we are poised to enter this school year with powerful momentum and a clear sense of optimism that will prove that our approach makes a significant difference.


As we enter this pivotal year of our work-and particularly for the i3 study-we are inspired by what we have learned and, maybe more importantly, compelled by the promise that our success represents to the country. We are building on all the lessons learned to provide you the tools and supports that we think will take our collective work to the next level. With the help and tireless efforts of Doug Elmer and the Diplomas Now Implementation Support Team, we will soon focus on coordinating all of our efforts around a monthly dashboard so that we are responding to and building upon the information that it provides in a timely and nimble way. We will continue to help you integrate operations for the benefit of our schools so that we can even more effectively engage our districts and the broader community to sustain and expand our efforts.


This work is exceedingly complex and challenging, but you have demonstrated that it can be done. You have shown that when students and staff have the right structures and supports, they can achieve at remarkable levels.


You have truly done us all proud. Let's make this our best year yet.


Go Team! 



      Robert Balfanz                                                            Charles Hiteshew


      Jim Balfanz                                                                 Dan Cardinali






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