Uncommon receives grant from U.S. Department of Education to create Computer Science program

  • February 15, 2022

We are thrilled to announce that Uncommon has been awarded a highly competitive $4 million Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The EIR grants support “local efforts to develop, implement, and take to scale entrepreneurial and evidence-based projects that have the potential to improve academic achievement for underserved students.” Uncommon is one of only 30 organizations in the country to receive this grant.

Uncommon will use this grant over a five-year period to create a robust and culturally responsive Computer Science (CS) program at all our high schools, which will impact more than 5,000 students over the next five years, and even more in the years that follow. The initiative will systematically address the structural barriers that prevent underrepresented students from achieving their full potential in STEM fields by exposing all students to CS as early as ninth and tenth grade through CS units embedded in required math and science courses. The goals of this project include:

  • Develop the staffing and technology infrastructure to support robust CS programming
  • Increase high school students’ interest and self-efficacy in CS, including the number of students enrolling in AP CS courses and passing the AP CS exam
  • Increase the number of Uncommon alumni pursuing CS-related higher education degrees and careers
  • Share CS curricula, professional development resources, and learnings from an independent evaluation of the initiative with the broader educator sector to boost CS interest and skills among underrepresented youth beyond Uncommon

Uncommon has recently hired Allison Johnson as the Senior Manager of Computer Science. Johnson is a former Milken Award recipient and Washington Park High School AP Computer Science teacher who has spent the last few years writing AP Computer Science curriculum for the College Board.

We are excited to share more information and results as they become available. 

The EIR grant builds on Uncommon’s success as a previous grantee of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) award, through which we demonstrated the effectiveness of the Uncommon school model as a strategy for turning around persistently low-performing schools in Camden and Newark, New Jersey. Uncommon Schools in the i3 study closed the poverty test score gap in math and closed 89% of the poverty test scope gap in English Language Arts within four years.