PSP invests $6 million in expansion of high-quality public schools

Grants from Great Schools Fund will support the growth of Hill-Freedman Middle School, Science Leadership Academy, and The Workshop School

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) today announced it is investing $6 million in grants from its Great Schools Fund to support the expansion of two high-performing School District of Philadelphia schools and the growth of an innovative program into a District high school.

Grants from the Great Schools Fund will support the expansion of the following schools:

  • $2.6 million over three years to add 600 new seats in a high school campus of the Hill Freedman Middle School, an academically rigorous public magnet school in East Germantown serving 240 predominantly low-income and minority students. In Hill Freedman’s unique model, 70 percent of students are enrolled in a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program, and 30 percent are enrolled in a high school transition program for students with complex needs. The school will expand by adding a ninth grade to serve approximately 110 additional students, with at least 20 percent attending the special education program.
  • $1.9 million over three years to add 500 new seats at a second campus of Science Leadership Academy (SLA), an inquiry-based District magnet school created in partnership with The Franklin Institute. SLA draws a diverse student population from across the city, and currently receives over 2,000 applications each year for 125 spots. The school has a 93 percent graduation rate and an overwhelming majority of students go on to college. A second campus will allow SLA to serve approximately 125 additional students next year.
  • $1.5 million over three years to add 500 new seats at the Workshop School, an expansion of the Sustainability Workshop, a project-based, alternative senior year program. The grant is PSP’s second to the Sustainability Workshop; the Fund made a $175,000 incubation grant to the group in July 2012 to support the design of the Workshop School. The program currently serves 30 School District of Philadelphia students, and in 2012, nearly all of the program’s students were accepted to college. The school will serve approximately 60 students from predominantly low-income communities next year.

“We are one-hundred percent committed to giving every child in Philadelphia access to a high-performing school, and the opportunity to graduate ready for college or the work world,” said Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “This expansion of schools with measurable track records of success will get 1,600 students closer to that day.”

These expansions, which may require approval by the School Reform Commission, will ultimately create a total of approximately 1,600 new available seats in high-performing School District high schools. PSP selected the schools for investment after a thorough due diligence process focused on academic outcomes, leadership quality, and capacity for growth.

“Across each of the more than twenty schools the Great Schools Fund has invested in – private, charter, and District schools – we see unique strengths and common threads,” said Mark Gleason, Executive Director of PSP. “These are all schools that prepare students of all backgrounds to succeed in college; schools with visionary leaders who have the ability to build outstanding teams of educators; and schools where leaders and teachers believe that all students can achieve at high levels.”

PSP’s Great Schools Fund pools philanthropic dollars from a diverse group of funders to strategically invest in the incubation, startup, expansion and turnaround of schools across Philadelphia. PSP has raised over $50 million toward the Fund’s $100 million goal. This round of grants brings PSP’s total investments in schools to $19.2 million for the cumulative creation of over 10,000 seats. PSP has been working closely with the District and school leadership teams to identify additional investment opportunities, with a focus on transforming student outcomes at one or more schools slated to receive an influx of students next fall under the District’s Facilities Master Plan.

“We continue to look for other opportunities to invest in expanding access to quality schools, including district schools that are high performing or that are candidates for dramatic improvement,” said Jessica Pena, Director of the Great Schools Fund.

About the Great Schools Fund

The Fund invests in K-12 schools of any type with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including traditional district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is to replace the 35,000 lowest performing seats in Philadelphia by 2016-17 with higher performing ones by turning around low-performing schools, expanding high performing schools, or creating new high-quality schools. PSP’s investment team conducts a rigorous screening process for grant applicants to evaluate their capacity for delivering strong educational outcomes; its recommendations are vetted by an investment committee before being presented to the PSP Board of Directors for approval.

About the Philadelphia School Partnership

PSP is a nonprofit organization founded in October 2010 that invests in the creation and expansion of great schools in Philadelphia. PSP is raising a $100 million “Great Schools Fund” in support of education reform, and investing those funds as growth capital to support the transformation, expansion and startup of high-performing schools in the public and private sectors. It measures success by the number of students in Philadelphia who move out of failing schools to better-quality school options, and it judges school quality on the basis of student academic outcomes. PSP works closely with Mayor Michael Nutter, state Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis, the School Reform Commission, charter school leadership, and the Archdiocese to achieve the goals of the Philadelphia Great School Compact. The Compact represents a collective commitment to transform or replace the worst-performing schools in the city, representing nearly 50,000 students, by 2016-17. Learn more at

About the Hill-Freedman Middle School

Hill-Freedman is an academically rigorous public magnet school in East Germantown currently enrolling 240 students in grades six through eight. The school is expanding to add a high school, beginning with the addition of a ninth grade serving approximately 110 students.

Hill-Freedman provides a holistic approach to academic excellence. The school serves predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged students. It embraces a unique hybrid model in which 70% of the students are enrolled in a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program, and the remaining 30% are enrolled in a high school transition program for students with complex needs. Principal Anthony Majewski successfully leads the school as one cohesive school community.

About Science Leadership Academy

Science Leadership Academy (SLA), an award-winning magnet high school in Center City, will expand to a second campus in the Beeber Middle School building. Developed in partnership with The Franklin Institute and its commitment to inquiry-based science, the Science Leadership Academy provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship in a one-to-one laptop environment. Founded in 2006, SLA has garnered attention in recent years as a national thought leader and incubator of inquiry-driven project-based modern learning. The expanded campus will enable Beeber Middle School to remain in a shared facility arrangement. Science Leadership Academy-Beeber(SLA-B) will invite select applicants to the 2013-14 SLA ninth-grade class to join the inaugural ninth-grade class of 125 students at the Beeber campus. For more information, visit

About the Workshop School

The Sustainability Workshop will expand from a successful pilot project into a full high school, known as the Workshop School (the Workshop). Students at the Workshop develop academic knowledge and 21st century skills by designing and completing projects focused on real-world problems. The Workshop has received national attention for its innovative, project-driven approach, with profiles on CNN, PBS, and in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Currently located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, an inaugural ninth grade class of 60 students will enroll in the fall at a new location. For more information, contact the Workshop at