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Connections Education and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Announce Partnership

-- Initiative Launches “TMCF Collegiate Academy” Blended Schools, Marking the Organization’s First Direct Major Entry into Secondary School Market --

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BALTIMORE, MD and WASHINGTON, DC (July 12, 2012) – Connections Education (www.ConnectionsEducation.com), a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable online and blended learning, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) (http://www.thurgoodmarshallcollegefund.org) the only national organization representing nearly 300,000 students attending this country’s 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), law and medical schools, have announced a new national partnership. The foundation of the multi-faceted initiative is the launch of a new national network of secondary schools called TMCF Collegiate Academies. These ‘blended’ secondary schools will be located on or near the campuses of TMCF member-schools, and will deliver students a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, while also addressing 21st Century learning needs. The partnership, which marks TMCF’S first major entry in its 25–year history into the secondary school market, meets the nation’s urgent need for more high-quality college preparatory public education solutions for minority and otherwise under-served students.

Two additional programs round out the partnership. The first establishes a professional pipeline for public HBCU member-school students and alumni with Connections Education, and the second spotlights prominent public HBCU alumni and other notable African Americans, via a web-based leadership series for the 40,000–plus students enrolled in Connections Education’s national network of Connections Academy virtual public schools and Nexus Academy blended public schools.

Selected TMCF member-schools will participate in the partnership by hosting the new secondary schools, supporting the schools with professional development and student teacher placement, and providing early college programming. Each school will carry the name of its affiliated public HBCU, and so will be called TMCF Collegiate Academy@HBCU NAME.

TMCF Collegiate Academies will be tuition-free, open enrollment public secondary schools focused on college prep programming for grades 6–12. The partners anticipate opening as many as 10 TMCF Collegiate Academies in the next five years, and hope to open the first school for the 2014–15 school year.

“This is the first time in our 25–year history we have made such a major commitment to secondary school education, and we are really excited to partner with the e-learning pioneer Connections Education to bring TMCF Collegiate Academies to the communities we serve,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “These schools deliver a totally new educational choice to students who need innovative options to develop their talents and skills. But beyond creating new schools, this partnership helps us achieve our core mission on several levels. We’re helping our member-schools with student retention and graduation, by making sure students are ready for college-level work from day one and have the tools to fulfill their dreams. And we’re creating an exciting new professional pipeline for our member-school students and alumni that truly exemplifies our slogan of WHERE EDUCATION PAYS OFF!”

“We are delighted to partner with TMCF and its member-schools to bring a world-class secondary education option to an under-served student population,” commented Barbara Dreyer, Connections Education co-founder and chief executive officer. “The TMCF Collegiate Academies will provide a unique, student-centered public school experience that combines the best in online and face-to-face education. So students will be engaged in learning, focused on fulfilling their aspirations, and better prepared for success in college and beyond, as 21st Century citizens.”

TMCF Collegiate Academies build on the success of the growing network of Nexus Academy charter schools and other Connections Education-powered blended programs in Ohio, Michigan, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and beyond. The cutting-edge schools will employ an innovative, inspirational, and individualized instructional approach that turns the traditional public school model on its head.
TMCF Collegiate Academies schools will leverage Connections Education’s curriculum, a best-of-the-best collection of learning materials from leading publishers such as Pearson and McGraw Hill, as well as proprietary instructional tools and resources developed by Connections Education’s expert curriculum specialists. Connections Education is accredited by AdvancED.
In addition to better preparing students to succeed in college, every TMCF Collegiate Academy student will be provided with the opportunity to make their college dreams a reality. Students who graduate with a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average will be eligible to receive college scholarships from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

For more information about the TMCF Collegiate Academies please visit www.thurgoodmarshallcollegefund.org.

ABOUT CONNECTIONS EDUCATION
Connections Education is a leading, fully-accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual education solutions for students in grades K–12. Since 2001, the company’s Connections Academy division has delivered individualized learning to students through virtual public schools and a private online academy. In the 2012–13 school year, 24 Connections Academy virtual public schools and five Nexus Academy blended public schools will operate in 23 states and are expected to serve more than 40,000 students from across the U.S. The Connections Learning division meets the needs of schools, school districts, and other institutions looking to develop and enhance their online learning programs. Connections Learning delivers a full range of targeted digital learning solutions to the K–12 education community including online courses, a program for homebound students, a digital learning platform, and more. More than 1,000 schools, school districts, state departments of education and other educational institutions, serving tens of thousands of students throughout the United States and beyond, are already utilizing Connections Learning products and services. Connections Education is committed to expanding quality education through technology and helping students achieve both academic and personal success. For more information, call 800–382–6010 or visit www.ConnectionsEducation.com. Connections Education is part of the global learning company Pearson (NYSE:PSO).

ABOUT THE THURGOOD MARSHALL COLLEGE FUND
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. TMCF helps students with a clear intention and the motivation to succeed and acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. TMCF also efficiently connects high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities—access that students or employers might not have on their own. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization and for more information about TMCF and its initiatives, visit: www.ThurgoodMarshallCollegeFund.org.