The Wallace Foundation Launches Second Phase of Its State Initiative in Education Leadership

April 16, 2004

The Wallace Foundation Launches Second Phase of its State Initiative in Education Leadership

$3.6 million awarded to 15 states currently participating in the
State Action for Education Leadership Project (SAELP)

NEW YORK, NY, April 16, 2004 – The Wallace Foundation announced today one-year grants totaling $3.6 million to 15 states to participate in the second phase of a state-based project strengthening the ability of district and school leadership to improve student achievement.  As part of the State Action for Education Leadership Project or SAELP II, these states have been leading a national effort to ensure that their laws and policies strengthen, rather than inhibit, the capacity of education leaders to improve teaching and learning, as well as to harvest and spread useful knowledge on a broad scale.

Through the work of the current SAELP states, which will be eligible to renew their grants for up to an additional two years for another $16 million based on results, the importance of effective leadership has become more widely recognized as critical to school improvement efforts.  In planning for a second phase, 25 additional states have expressed interest in focusing on education leadership issues and their implications for changes in policy and practice.  The Foundation hopes to announce additional investments toward the end of this year.

“State policymakers have a critical role to play in significantly improving student achievement by strengthening the performance of education leaders and improving the working conditions that impede their success,” said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation.  “We hope to see these states offer innovative approaches to the rest of the country to result in better learning for all children, especially those with the greatest needs.”

States participating in SAELP II have demonstrated not only a solid commitment of their top leadership, including governors, but also a willingness to combine improved training of leaders with changes in the working conditions that can improve their performance in raising student achievement.  Some of these conditions might include offering incentives to attract leaders to where they are needed most, creating doable job responsibilities and providing the authority to get the job done. 
The SAELP initiative – combined with the Leadership for Educational Achievement in Districts (LEAD) initiative that includes 12 districts located within the SAELP states – is one of the cornerstones of the Foundation’s education leadership initiative.  Launched in 2000, this initiative aims to improve policies and regulations that contribute to and connect current leadership policies and practices at the state, district, school and classroom levels toward the goals of improving student achievement, and to support and share knowledge that will be useful on a broad scale.
The 15 SAELP II states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.  They will receive support from a national consortium consisting of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Education Commission of the States, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Governors Association.

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The Wallace Foundation is an independent private foundation established by DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, the founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. Its mission is to enable institutions to expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. It does this by supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices. To achieve this mission, The Wallace Foundation has three objectives:

  • Strengthen education leadership to improve student achievement;
  • Improve after-school learning opportunities; and 
  • Expand participation in arts and culture.