Rhode Island's Path to a World Class Public Education System

$1 million in Foundation funding will support the final recommendations in the long-term education plan developed by education leaders and advocates

The Rhode Island Foundation today announced that it is committing $1 million – above and beyond the Foundation’s annual grantmaking in education – to support improvements to the state’s pre-K to 12th grade public education system.

The funding announcement comes as the Long Term Education Planning committee, convened in late 2018 and led by the Foundation, releases final recommendations for improvements. The Foundation’s investment of $1 million will align with the recommendations in the report. The report includes input provided by more than 300 parents, students, educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors at the Make It Happen: A World Class Public Education for RI brainstorming session at the R.I. Convention Center in December.

“Rhode Island must chart a course and stay the course on the way to creating a world-class public education system that prepares all students to succeed in life and contribute productively to the community."

- Neil D. Steinberg, Foundation president and CEO

The Long Term Education Planning Committee, a 26-member group of educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for profit sectors convened at the request of the Foundation, developed the 10-year plan for improving education in Rhode Island. Click on a link below to read the plan, “Chart a Course, Stay the Course: Rhode Island’s Path to a World Class Public Education System."

Launch the online report

Download the report

“Participants at the Make it Happen event were extremely vocal about the need to amplify the role of student and family voice. These voices are fundamental and critical to making improvements in the system,” said Steinberg, who served on the committee. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to work together on this effort – be ambitious and bold, display strong support for educators and continue to demand more for all students, in every community.”

In addition to a vision for the future of public education in Rhode Island, the final plan includes a set of four priorities and accompanying strategies, including aligning the state funding formula with both state and local needs and sustaining a rigorous, statewide assessment system.


Rhode Island’s world-class public education system prepares all students to succeed in life and contribute productively to the community.

  • Put students at the center, ensuring that school is rewarding, engaging and responsive to interests and needs
  • Respect, enable, empower and value teaching
  • Serve students who are being left behind and close achievement and opportunity gaps
  • Deliver relevant learning so students are prepared for the current and future economy

Priority: High Standards

Create, build and implement a world-class pre-K to 12 educational system that is rooted in rigorous standards, has aligned curriculum and instruction, and ongoing assessment, and that includes comprehensive social and emotional learning, and promotes and develops multilingualism.


  • Establish statewide standards for multilingual education
  • Create robust college and career pathways that provide students with opportunities for internships and work experience
  • Establish state and local expectations for a positive school culture, safe school environment and meaningful parent and community engagement
  • Implement standards aligned curriculum and instruction that is grade-level appropriate and culturally responsive
  • Sustain a rigorous, statewide, assessment system

Priority: Educator Support

Invest in the recruitment, preparation and continuous professional development and retention of a diverse network of excellent educators, teachers, education support professionals and school leaders who are supported in applying the knowledge, skills and disposition of a professional educator.


  • Recruit, foster, mentor and prepare the next generation of educators
  • Examine and improve educator preparation programs
  • Provide current, relevant and comprehensive professional development to prepare educators for ongoing success
  • Reexamine and address the barriers that prevent the recruitment and retention of racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse educators
  • Examine and address issues pertaining to the recruitment and retention methods for hard to fill teaching areas
  • Engage family and community to promote and support public education as a career

Priority: Investment Priorities

Commit to meaningful and sustained investments in public education that promotes excellence and distributes resources equitably based on student, school and community needs.


  • Reexamine and modify existing funding formula to align with state and local priorities
  • Link investments to viable academic, economic and professional development outcomes
  • Leverage partnerships with business, community and social service organizations to supplement investments in public education
  • Enable active and meaningful family and community engagement in supporting investments tied to students’ learning
  • Modify existing clauses in the Rhode Island Constitution to best protect and serve students

Priority: Clear Governance

Institute coherent and effective governance structures with clear roles and responsibilities at the state, district and school levels that are accountable to students, families, educators and policy makers.


  • Align responsibility and authority at each level of governance
  • Commit to school-based management with district and state support in policy guidance, professional development and technical assistance
  • Engage community, including parents and students, to be part of the decision-making process
  • Establish mechanisms for review of outcomes and accountability, including rebuilding existing statutes and regulations

The Foundation will align its $1 million commitment to support the priorities and strategies identified in the report. The Foundation will also continue work with the committee to help sustain the effort.

The Long Term Education Planning Committee came together in late 2018 at the Foundation’s request with the mission of creating a long-term approach for improving public education in Rhode Island. The committee includes representatives from all corners of the education sector in Rhode Island (a full list of committee members can be found on pages 21 and 22 of the report). Committee members have worked together, with input from the community, to identify the most pressing needs and commit to state-level coordination and institutional decision-making that will address those needs over the long-term.

Graphic recordings from the Make it Happen event that took place in December, 2019 are available for review and download here:

Opening and closing session

Sessions focused on High Standards and Clear Governance

Sessions focused on Educator Supports and Investment Priorities

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

A one-page summary of Chart a Course, Stay the Course is available for download. Click here for English, and here for Spanish.