Four city schools have won thousands of dollars to spur turnarounds, pay for training, and create supports to get students back on track.
The grants were announced Wednesday by the Philadelphia School Partnership.
Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School is getting $150,000 to plan its overhaul. Roxborough High will get $145,000 for a turnaround; Wissahickon Charter will receive $56,625 for training; and the Workshop School, a project-based public high school in West Philadelphia, is to get $23,200 for technology and an academic-intervention program.
To date, PSP has given out more than $35 million to city schools - $20.6 million to charters, $11.7 million to traditional public schools, and $3.4 million to private schools. The group said it has helped move 16,000 students into better educational opportunities.
The well-funded group has drawn criticism from some who say it does not support all traditional public schools, but its boosters counter that PSP has done much to spur innovation and reward excellent, improving schools.
"Opportunities to create great educational outcomes for low-income students exist in schools of all types across the city," Jessica Pena, director of the Great Schools Fund at PSP, said in a statement. "These investments in public and private schools will enable leadership teams to develop comprehensive plans to ensure that every student in their schools can learn and succeed."
Neumann-Goretti, which educates 500 students in South Philadelphia, aims to boost student achievement and academic rigor. Its grant will pay for turnaround consultants and teacher training, and will allow staff to visit model schools.
Roxborough, a neighborhood public school with 560 students, is moving to reshape the school in an "all academy" approach, encouraging students to concentrate in areas such as cinematography, business, Web design, and biotechnology.
The school will still welcome all comers, principal Dana Jenkins said, but its focus will be more intentional. Students will be readied for college or careers, potentially emerging with college credits, job certifications, and workplace skills.
"It's very different than the days when I went to school, when the edict was 'You go to class because I said so,' " Jenkins said. "Now, students want to know 'Why do I have to have a mastery level of geometry?' These career paths help us to make those connections."