Dallas, Texas – October 10, 2017

Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded a $600,000 grant to Learning Forward to support the launch of the new What Matters Now Network, a community of state-based coalitions of policy makers and educators. The network will apply improvement science methods within a Networked Improvement Community to strengthen professional learning that measurably improves educator practice and results for students. Learning Forward, a membership association focused on effective professional learning for K-12 educators, will facilitate the network, engaging stakeholders from the state level to the classroom level in each state coalition.

The 2016 National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) landmark report, What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning, outlines a vision where teachers have more agency and leadership opportunities within a coherent learning system that aligns resources, provides data to inform decision making, and supports teacher-led collaborative professional learning within continuous improvement cycles. The What Matters Now Network is designed to achieve this vision so that all students have access to effective teaching and learning. NCTAF and Learning Forward merged earlier this year.

“Learning Forward is honored to have Carnegie Corporation’s support in this effort, a continuation of a long-standing commitment to transforming teaching and learning,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “This network will offer states and districts powerful opportunities to focus on developing solutions to substantive problems of practice that will inform and improve policy, along with the support they need to operate as continuous learning organizations.”

The What Matters Now network will build on Learning Forward’s more than 40 years of experience in designing and facilitating professional learning systems and on its expertise in bringing together learning teams and communities of practice to advance critical systems change. The new network will utilize improvement science strategies to support continuous learning in the multi-stakeholder coalitions, which will focus on improving key aspects of effective professional learning systems such as practice-based collaboration and aligned instructional materials. In order to work toward relevant and sustainable change, the network will focus on practical solutions that link practice and policy.

In the next steps for the initiative, Learning Forward will identify the initial three states to participate in the What Matters Now Network. The states chosen will have demonstrated an interest in issues of professional learning systems as a means to achieve equity and excellence, and will have the political will and capacity for implementing substantive change across systems.

The philanthropic foundation supported earlier stages of this work through a planning grant.