Bill Gates Pledges $460 Million To Help Struggling American Schools

by Jerriann Sullivan
Image via Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Bill Gates to give $460 million to education over next five years

Bill Gates is so passionate about helping American students that he has promised to pledge $460 million to educational programs across the country over the next five years. While Gates made the announcement last year, we’ve only just learned precisely how some of those millions would be spent helping American students.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made headlines recently when it announced that it would be providing funding to groups and schools that work directly with students who live in some of the most impoverished parts of America, according to the Associated Press. Nearly $100 million will go to 19 different programs that help middle and high school students in more impoverished communities in 13 states. The money was given directly to a school district, a charter schools organization, and third-party organizations that help students. Overall, Gates plans on spending $460 million in five years to help low-income and minority students become prepared for college.

“We’re not inventing anything in this strategy. We’re taking what we learned from research and experience,” Bob Hughes, who leads the foundation’s K-12 education program, told the AP. Instead of investing a bunch of money into research programs — which the Gates’ have done in the past — the latest round of funds will go to programs that education experts know work. This is crucial for kids who come from low-income communities because they need programs that we know will work.

The grants given to these different programs will help students in a variety of ways. Some programs will focus on improving math and English skills while others will help students avoid suspensions and learn how to apply to colleges. As a former low-income student who was the first person in her family to graduate from college, I can personally attest that these programs are not only needed but could be very beneficial to generations of students.

The new targeted approach will give local education experts the money they need for programs that they know work like the San Diego-based High Tech High Graduate School of Education, which received one of the Gates’ grants. Ben Daley, who runs the program, explained that the extra funds would allow the school to help kids work through the complicated and overwhelming process of applying to colleges, which includes applications, financial aid forms, credit transfers, and various other bureaucratic nightmares. Daley said the “simple, engaging, and positive” program would help students in 30 public, charter and alternative high schools in parts of San Diego.

“There is no one-size-fits all solution to school improvement. School leaders, including principals and teachers, working together are in the best position to determine how to best support their students,” the foundation said. “We believe it shouldn’t matter where you are from, how much money you have, or what color your skin is—every student should have the same opportunity to succeed.”