The U.S. Department of Education today awarded up to $30 million in implementation grants to various Promise Neighborhood communities across the nation, including New York, Minnesota, Kentucky, Texas, and California. An additional $7.5 million in planning grants ($500,000 each) was awarded to 15 new communities. In all, 234 communities applied for either planning or implementation grants this year.
“The bottom line here is teachers can’t do it alone; parents can’t do it alone; you need an integrated approach to help students succeed in school,” Mark Zuckerman, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said during a press conference call this afternoon.
This was the second round of money dedicated to fostering these unique community-school partnerships that focus on creating a “cradle-to-career” approach to the educational development and attainment of children. These communities acknowledge that education doesn’t begin, or end, behind schoolhouse doors. Education begins at infancy with proper healthcare and early childhood community programs. It’s developed largely in K-12 schools, but teachers work best with additional support from after-school programs, summer literacy courses, cultural neighborhood events, and community services that connect families to adequate housing and food. And it continues far past high school graduation, linking students and their families with the resources and aid necessary to reach and succeed in higher education or other workforce training. It is, as they say, “cradle to career.”
My colleagues last month highlighted a similar partnership in Cincinnati, Ohio, that now boasts more than 300 partners, from nonprofits and businesses to civic groups and philanthropies, that work together to provide “every service and support that children and adolescents need, at every stage of their education and development.” Although the Strive Partnership of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky was not born from President Obama’s Promise Neighborhood initiative, it embodies the same principles:
- A mutual and agreed-upon vision for student success
- Strategies and metrics, aligned with that vision, for each partner and the partnership as a whole
- Ample and sufficient data on progress and student outcomes
- Strong, sustained civic leadership that supports and broadens the partnerships
Without these essentials, community-school partnerships can be messy. They can tricky and political. But when done well, like in Cincinnati, they can be fruitful and effective. One particularly bright finding in Cincinnati, since Strive’s inception in 2006, shows a substantial increase in the percentage of children who come to kindergarten ready to learn.
We can’t think of a better way to start school.