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Make a gift now to help us meet the E.E. Ford Leadership Grant challenge by selecting “Endowment” followed by “E.E. Ford Leadership Grant Match” in the giving form. The school plans to put the grant dollars to immediate use funding the next two years of the internal research team’s work, which up to this point has been covered entirely by existing UHS operating dollars. The matching dollars raised are intended to be put into the endowment which will help support the internal research team’s work in perpetuity.  For more information please contact Shaundra Bason, director of development, at (415)447-3119.

In November 2019, San Francisco University High School was awarded a prestigious leadership grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. Acknowledging UHS’s innovative work building internal institutional research capacity especially in the area of student engagement, this $250,000 grant, for which we will need to raise $250,000 to match, is awarded to projects that “promise a significant impact on the practice and thinking in the independent school community throughout the country, are innovative and replicable, encourage bold, new ideas that address challenges faced by independent schools and  have a "ripple" effect where the benefits of the successful pursuit of an idea will not be limited to a single school.” 

During the creation of our Strategic Design, it became clear that to be a strategically nimble school, we needed to develop a greater capacity for more tailored, in-house self-study. Motivated by that need, the administration in partnership with the faculty and staff have created a new institutional model for school research, self-assessment, and strategic decision making that leverages existing faculty and staff talents while also expanding leadership and professional growth opportunities. This work is organized and executed by an internal research team that is charged with building reliable tools, habits, and practices that enable school leaders to make informed decisions and provide metrics to assess and guide programmatic change. The team consists of a permanent technical arm and a rotating strategic arm that work together to develop tools for analysis of a UHS-specific research agenda. This model not only provides faculty and staff valuable leadership opportunities outside the scope of typically available responsibilities, but also builds institutional thinking amongst a broader portion of our community, generating more effective insights, analyses, and trust-worthy recommendations.

Since its inception, our internal research team has undertaken a longitudinal study on student identity and connection, built a tool for tracking student feedback for teacher professional growth, and is in the process developing a tool for assessing and measuring student thriving.  We know that this model and these research queries addresses an emerging need and priority in the NAIS community, and we are optimistic that many like-minded independent schools will seek not only to replicate the research project team model of self-study and growth, but also to build a network of shared learnings and practices generated by each school’s research exploration.

Over the next two years we will continue to build the team’s capacity, institutionalize its role in our school, support ongoing training for team members, present this work at various conferences and meetings, and build a community of interested peer schools with the eventual production of best-practice workshops.