The formula to improve student achievement doesn't start and end with the classroom -- talented teachers, committed parents, and engaged communities must also factor into the equation. Earlier this week, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and U.S. Department of Education recognized 31 organizations from across the nation for their pursuit of that goal in the Together for Tomorrow (TFT) Challenge.
Together for Tomorrow is a joint initiative of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships together with the U.S. Department of Education and CNCS, that recognizes community-led partnership to support struggling schools. TFT honorees include 24 initiatives that met criteria set out in the Department's Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge and seven demonstration sites operating as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program through CNCS.
The Challenge presented an opportunity for schools and districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to join with other partners in efforts to improve their neediest schools by raising key measurable student outcomes: attendance, behavior, course performance and college access, known as the ABCs.
“When it comes to turning around low-performing schools, the Department's investments and the work of schools and districts are only part of the solution,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Our schools need community engagement to support and sustain school improvement.”
Plans were submitted to give national recognition to new partnerships as well as spotlight and expand existing exemplary initiatives to strengthen a community culture of educational success in struggling schools. The Challenge is not a new grant program, but rather an approach to better coordinate resources and efforts, including many through U.S. Department of Education and CNCS programs.
Among those recognized were seven demonstration sites where AmeriCorps VISTA members are working with other national service programs and community partners to build capacity, manage volunteer resources and facilitate the relationships between schools and faith-based and secular organizations.
Together, these groups will help change the fundamental relationship between schools and community partners to make working toward positive results for our lowest-performing schools everyone's responsibility.
“Time after time, we have seen how committed parents and community volunteers can make a powerful difference in the educational outcomes of our students," said Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer. "Today we shine the spotlight on 31 initiatives that are bringing together citizens and communities to help young people achieve their best in school and prepare for success in life."
2012-2013 Together for Tomorrow Challenge Winners
- Red Clay Consolidated School District, Wilmington, DE
- St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Orlando, FL
- Points of Light, Atlanta, GA
- Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, IA
- Waterloo Community School District, Waterloo, IA
- Elev8, Chicago, IL, and Baltimore, MD
- One Church One School, Chicago, IL
- Roxbury Presbyterian Church Social Impact Center, Roxbury, MA
- Mount Clemens Community Schools, Mount Clemens, MI
- United Way of Greater Duluth, Equity and Excellence in Education, Duluth, MN
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, St. Louis, MO
- Joplin Schools, Joplin, MO
- United Way of Forsyth County, Inc., Winston-Salem, NC
- Clark County School District, Las Vegas , NV
- Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY
- United Way of New York City & Diplomas Now, New York, NY
- East End Community Services, Dayton, OH
- It's My Community Initiative, Oklahoma City, OK
- Oregon State University Science and Mathematics Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE), Corvallis , OR
- EducationWorks, Philadelphia, PA
- Messiah College, Grantham, PA
- Providence's Children and Youth Cabinet, Providence, RI
- Gestalt Community Schools, Memphis , TN
- Navasota ISD, Navasota , TX
Together for Tomorrow Demonstration Sites
- Center Public Schools, Center, CO
- Foundation for Educational Excellence / Denver Summit Schools Network, Denver, CO
- Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut / United Way of Greater New Haven United Way, New Haven, CT
- Heart of Florida United Way / Orange County Public Schools / Office of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando, FL
- Tulane University Center for Public Service, New Orleans, LA
- United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Detroit, MI
- Tennessee Campus Compact / Achievement School District, Memphis, TN