Talent Development Secondary

Talent Development Secondary

Talent Development Secondary (TDS) develops and implements effective programs for improving middle and high school students’ academic performance and college and career readiness. TDS partners with schools, introduces research-based strategies such as teacher teams and small learning communities, and provides professional development and coaching for staff. 

TDS’s comprehensive, evidence-based approach has proven to be one of the few effective models for improving the performance of entire middle and high schools in low-income neighborhoods. It combines positive changes in a school’s culture with an early warning system to identify and work directly with individual students who are struggling with poor attendance, poor behavior, and/or failing English or math.

Growing awareness of the many obstacles to academic success, including those outside of school, in high-poverty settings led TDS to augment its model through strategic partnerships with organizations addressing students’ social, psychological and economic needs. This collaborative approach, called “Diplomas Now,” unites TDS’s academic supports with student supports and near-peer mentoring provided by City Year and intensive student services from EMCF grantee Communities In Schools.

TDS also operates sites outside the Diplomas Now model.


Beginning in 2013, EMCF invested $5.1 million in TDS. Our investments helped TDS:

  • Pursue a transition from Johns Hopkins University to an independent entity.
  • Create and complete its FY15-FY18 strategic plan.
  • Continue supporting more than 11,300 students at risk of dropping out of school.

Our final grant in 2017 supported transitioning TDS out of  Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools to the fiscal sponsorship of the Tides Foundation.


Learn more about Talent Discovery Secondary at tdschools.org.