By Shaina Negron, CNN
(CNN) - At age 16, Rob McCullough walked into an LA Boxing gym for the first time. The teen had left home, moving from one friend's couch to another, and now finally felt like he found a place where he belonged.
"I went to the gym and worked out, and worked out my stuff," he says. "That was kind of my safe haven."
After taking his first class and leaving with a compliment from the instructor, McCullough was hooked. "It built self-confidence," he recalls. "At the end of the day, I felt great about it."
Life was difficult at times for McCullough and his seven siblings who were raised by a single mother. Constantly relocating, he remembers how other kids were not always welcoming when the family moved to a new neighborhood. "I dealt with bullying growing up as a kid because I was always the new guy at the school," he says.
By the time he reached high school, a new challenge would shape his future.
by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - School's going to be a little longer for about 20,000 U.S. students next year.
On Monday, The U.S. Department of Education, the Ford Foundation and the National Center for Time and Learning (NCTL), announced the formation of the TIME Collaborative. This initiative will support more than 40 selected schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee that will be open an additional 300 hours during the 2013-2014 school year. For schools on a 180-day calendar, that would add more than an hour and a half of instruction per day.
The TIME Collaborative, a partnership between NCTL and the Ford Foundation, is funded by federal, state and private funds. NCTL will provide technical support for schools, while the Ford Foundation is offering $3 million in grant funds.
One of the group’s goals is to reduce achievement gaps for children who live in impoverished communities. "More learning time was simply necessary to close opportunity and achievement gaps," David Farbman, senior researcher at NCTL, wrote on the organization’s official blog.
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at email@example.com