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Annenberg Institute for School Reform

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) is a national policy research and reform-support organization, headquartered at Brown University, that conducts research and collaborates with school districts, communities, and other education stakeholders to improve the conditions and outcomes of urban public schools.

Established in 1993 by education reform leader Theodore (Ted) Sizer, the founder and chair of the then-Brown University-based Coalition for Essential Schools, the organization was renamed shortly thereafter to honor philanthropist, former diplomat, and publisher Walter H. Annenberg, following the Annenberg Foundation's $50-million gift to endow AISR. A University Corporation-appointed Board of Overseers, chaired by Brown's president, governs the organization.

AISR is currently in a period of transition and refocusing of its mission, which reflects Brown’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction. Susanna Loeb, an expert in education policy and a professor of education at Stanford University, has been appointed the next director, starting July 1, 2018. Michael Grady currently serves as the Institute’s interim executive director.

Several former AISR programs are continuing their work in new organizational homes. On September 1, 2017, Research and Policy and New York-based Community Organizing and Engagement moved to the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. On November 13, 2017, New England-Based Community Organizing & Engagement and District & Systems Transformation moved to Roger Williams University’s School of Continuing Studies.

AISR’s programs and structure under Dr. Loeb’s leadership will emphasize closer integration with the University’s research and teaching mission and create a hub of scholarship and policy work that engages faculty, students, and practitioner experts addressing the causes, consequences, and mitigation of educational inequality.

In collaboration with Brown's Education Department, AISR established a Master's Program in Urban Policy (UEP) in 2006. The tightly focused, 12-month academic curriculum, integrated with a 9-month internship, is designed to impart a set of core skills and competencies necessary for successful careers in urban education policy. To date, degrees have been conferred on close to 300 graduates. In 2012, AISR's Board of Overseers established the Ruth J. Simmons Urban Education Policy Scholarship, a permanent annual award for UEP Master's degree candidates that honors the University's retired president and former AISR board chair. 

AISR also serves as a bridge from Brown to Providence and the state, providing support for the Providence Public School District, the R.I. Department of Education, and the Central Falls School District, and it hosted the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet from 2012 to 2017. In 2008-09, AISR supported the Governor's Urban Education Task Force, a key factor in Rhode Island's successful Race to the Top application. Furthermore, in partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation, AISR sponsored a series of eight forums in 2011-14 focused on "Building a 21st Century Education System" in the Ocean State.

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