July 28, 2010
Ford Foundation Grant to Fund Norfolk Academy's
New Collaboration with Bay Foundation
(NORFOLK, VA)—Norfolk Academy was one of just three schools in the nation to be chosen by the Edward E. Ford Foundation to receive a coveted $250,000 grant. The grant, along with a matching gift which the school has already secured, will provide a half-million dollar fund to launch a significant new educational initiative for Norfolk Academy students, the Chesapeake Bay Fellows program. This multi-year project, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, promotes ownership and stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay by engaging students beyond the classroom in interdisciplinary study related to the Bay. The $250,000 grant is the largest amount that the Ford Foundation awards.
Students will apply to be Chesapeake Bay Fellows in the ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade and will pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum, including the study of public policy, urban planning, marine science, mathematical and statistical modeling, and maritime literature, art, and history. The multi-year program will feature an experiential curriculum that blends rigorous academic study with on-site, hands-on analysis, public advocacy, and civic engagement and leadership.
"Our Chesapeake Bay Fellows Program has the potential to recast secondary education in independent schools," notes Norfolk Academy Headmaster Dennis Manning. "We began with the premise that over half of our students return to Hampton Roads to live—and many of them will assume leadership roles in the community, as Academy alumni before them have. Why not ready our graduates for the responsibilities they will assume? Why not introduce them to civic engagement, responsibility, and leadership, so that they are prepared to lead when they return here to live? And why not start with the largest,most important environmental responsibility they could assume—protecting the largest estuary in North America?"
Norfolk Academy hopes to develop additional civic leadership programs to address the most pressing challenges facing Hampton Roads, from health care to transportation.
Norfolk Academy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation believe that teaching students to take ownership of the Bay will pre-dispose them to embrace their civic responsibilities as adults. A long-term program goal is to nurture and mobilize local, informed, and impassioned future leaders to be excellent stewards of the Bay —or of the natural resources that they inherit as citizens of other communities where they will live and work. The Chesapeake Bay Fellows Program has the potential, therefore, not only to improve the long-term health of the Bay, but also to create an educational prototype for other secondary schools to imitate in their own localities.
Norfolk Academy will work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to identify year-round educational, experiential, and research opportunities for Fellows, who will, in turn, mentor younger students to promote the program's mission. The school also plans to partner with students in Norfolk Public Schools through Norfolk Academy's Breakthrough program. Norfolk Academy expects to graduate its first cohort of Chesapeake Bay Fellows by the academic year 2015-16. The search for a director of the Bay Fellows program will begin this summer.