About Us

The Institute for School Partnership is all about connecting the resources of Washington University to the needs of the K-12 education community in St. Louis and beyond. We develop and sustain impactful partnerships with schools in order to empower educators and improve educational outcomes for all students.

Through a broad spectrum of programs, we seek to improve equity and access to high quality teaching and learning opportunities in the St. Louis area. Through the ISP, local schools are connected with a world-class research university, educators are inspired with new knowledge and teachers and students are empowered with the best resources.

We aid schools by providing excellent professional development opportunities for teachers; developing innovative science curricula; coordinating classroom visits and fostering networking opportunities between WashU faculty and schools.

The ISP focuses on four strategic priorities:

  1. Create, develop and sustain impactful partnerships that advance the university and community efforts toward college access and diversity.
  2. Develop and provide educators with materials that result in positive outcomes for all students.
  3. Build educator capacity and encourage leadership.
  4. Build and share knowledge.

Charter School Support

Washington University serves as the charter public school sponsor of KIPP St. Louis and the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls. The university’s sponsorship efforts are led by the ISP, which provides training and resources to elementary and secondary schools throughout the region. ISP educators work closely with both schools to support student academic achievement. 


History of the ISP

The ISP was born in the late 1980s of a partnership initiated by WashU biology professor Sarah “Sally” Elgin with her children’s University City School District. The program brought university science faculty into the schools to provide students with interactive environmental science and genetics projects.

In 1990, Elgin expanded this initial partnership and founded Science Outreach, the forerunner to the Institute for School Partnership.

Thanks to the efforts of Elgin and her colleagues, the program has flourished, becoming one of the nation’s largest initiatives to improve the quality of science and math education in the public schools. ISP’s programs reach more than 2,500 teachers, 400 administrators and 100,000 students each year

For nearly 30 years now, Washington University, through Science Outreach and now the ISP, has transformed the science experience for many students with novel hands-on science curriculum.

Sally Elgin, who came of age as a scientist in the 1950s and '60s, was thrown out of several classes for asking too many questions.

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