standing Chariho High School

Chariho High School. Sun file photo

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho is one of 17 high schools chosen by the Rhode Island Department of Education to participate in a new initiative, the XQ+RI Challenge.

Thirty-two high school planning teams applied for the planning grants, which are $25,000 each. 

This is the first time Rhode Island has partnered with XQ. The organization was founded in 2015 by the Emerson Collective, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit established by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

In a press release announcing the partnership, RIDE describes XQ as “dedicated to reimagining high school education so every student succeeds — no matter their race, gender, or ZIP code."

Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said the district’s grant proposal had focused on the ninth grade, which many students find particularly challenging.

“With the $25,000 grant, Chariho High School will fully develop its initial ideas into a complete innovation plan,” he said. “Our initial ideas focused on supporting students in ninth grade, often described as a make or break grade.  We want to ensure that our incoming ninth-graders have a strong first year and that if any of our students become ‘off track’ to graduate, we proactively intervene and support that student in every way possible. 

"Further, Chariho's XQ vision includes providing support to students as they become increasingly autonomous learners,"  he continued. "As such, Chariho is committed to providing our students with real-life, hands-on, and individually meaningful experiences.”

The RIDE press release explains that grant applications were evaluated based on "the boldness of the proposal; how student-centered the proposal was; and how broad-based the planning team was that developed it.”

Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angélica Infante-Green said she was impressed by the funding proposals.

“This is an exciting moment to be a leader in education in Rhode Island,” she said. “I am deeply impressed by the depth of planning contained in these proposals, and by the teams’ willingness to take bold action to improve outcomes for students. I am also impressed by the diversity of this list, both geographically and in terms of student populations.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo also welcomed the partnership and the fresh ideas that it would foster.

“I am excited to see this important work move to the next stage, and for these innovative school teams to leverage these planning grants to turn their creative ideas into change on the ground,” she said. “With XQ’s support, we have created a powerful space for innovation, and these schools are one step closer to delivering even more for students.”

In addition to the planning grants, up to five schools will be awarded grants of up to $500,000 to implement their redesign plans. The recipients will be announced in early 2020.

Ricci said that for Chariho, the XQ challenge had come at the right time, as he district is actively researches ways to engage students and prepare them for success in the work force.

“XQ+RI challenged our design team to rethink what it means to be a high school student in the 21st century,” Ricci said. “To ensure our students are resilient in the face of any challenge, we are working to create a strong network of alumni, community, and industry partners.

Next year we will focus on reimagining work-based learning and local opportunities for our students, as well as engaging in community networking in new ways. We also want to provide all our high school students with postsecondary off-campus 'imagine' experiences."

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