The New Haven School District received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund professional development for teachers, city and school leaders announced on Tuesday.

The grant will support a program called Empowered Effective Educators, which focuses on strengthening classroom instruction through professional development opportunities and through collaboration among the district’s teachers, according to a NHPS media released this afternoon.

Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries ’95, New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarella and teachers at Barnard Environmental Magnet Studies School met on Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement of the philanthropic grant and to discuss the prospective teacher leadership programs.

This announcement came less than a week after the city’s teachers union and the Board of Education settled negotiations and ratified a three-year teacher contract that includes a new focus on teacher professionalism as well as a wage increase for teachers who earn a rating of “effective” or “better” on the teacher evaluation system. The original teacher contract, established in 2009, was part of a the city’s ground-breaking School Change Initiative, a reform program that seeks to raise students’ test scores to at least the state average, eliminate the achievement gap and cut high school dropout rates in half.

The grant will help the district usher in the next era of this education reform effort by financing a program to improve classroom instruction and empower educators to improve their teaching skills.

“As with everything we do in this district, students are at the center. This investment will enable us to intensify our focus on teacher professionalism as we continue efforts to connect to students, engage them in learning, and launch them into bright futures,” Harries stated in the NHPS press release.

The School Change Initiative was launched in 2010 through a collaboration among Mayor John DeStefano, NHPS, and the New Haven Federation of Teachers.