Boston Schools Get a $2.5 Million Donation

The funds will support principals and expand an achievement program.

“Did you know that someone born in America today is less likely to graduate high school than their parents?” Peter Lynch asked me this morning, a hint of disdain in his voice. Education is Lynch’s passion, which is why the Fidelity finance guru and philanthropic heavyweight just announced a $2.5 million gift to Boston city schools on behalf of the Lynch Foundation. The funds come in the form of two grants: one created a new program for principals, while the other will expand an achievement program for students.

Lynch and his wife Carolyn are products of public schools, and Carolyn’s father worked as a principal and superintendent throughout much of his career. Watching him run a school on his own helped inspire the creation of the Aspiring Principal Program, funded by a $1.5 million grant, and run through the Lynch Leadership Academy at Boston College. “It’s such a critical role and yet you’re so isolated,” Lynch said about principals. “You don’t have any peers to bounce questions off in your building.” The program provides comprehensive management training to seven to 15 principals each year, and Lynch hopes that in seven years he’ll have been able to offer the training to 80 percent of principals in the city.

The other section of grant money will go toward the expansion of the Achievement Network, a data-driven testing program which has been running in a few select schools in Boston for the past several years. The program tracks students throughout the school year, and helps teachers identify where their students are struggling, giving them resources to identify and then target weaknesses. “You find out not just that the child is behind, but why is the child behind,” says Lynch. The funds will bring the program to 75 schools in the next five years.