In order for children to flourish, they need access to schools with a strong "instructional core" (curriculum, teaching and school leadership) and to comprehensive, high-quality supports and opportunities. Schools with the most vulnerable student populations cannot be expected to provide all of this on their own.
To help close Greater Hartford's opportunity gap, the Foundation is working with seven of the region's highest need school districts: Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Vernon, Windsor Locks and Windsor.
In 2014, the Foundation provided each district with a planning grant to develop its own approach to partnership with families and community resources. Building upon existing District and School Improvement Plans, the resulting district strategies are expected to address issues such as increasing kindergarteners' school readiness, stemming summer learning loss, improving student attendance, and promoting early literacy.
These grants mark the Foundation's first efforts to help school districts outside of Hartford to deepen their partnerships not only with families, but also with health and mental health service providers, dental and vision care services, cultural institutions, and resources focused on boosting students' career and college readiness.
This work is emerging, but its impact is already evident.
Implementation grants awarded to Windsor, East Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Manchester are supporting innovative approaches to partnership and expanded opportunities to students and their families.
Related Reading: Sara Sneed served on CT's English Language Learners and Educational Equity Task Force.
And there is much more work to be done.
In addition to significant funding, we also provide these districts with substantial technical assistance, training and coaching opportunities. This includes uniquely convening the superintendents of these seven districts into a learning community to share their efforts and challenges.
At the same time, we are developing strategies for school district leadership, nonprofit capacity building and public policy to ensure that our Alliance District investments are impactful and sustainable. Our three-year partnership with the Ford Foundation as the fiduciary for its More and Better Learning Time Initiative has led to a grant that will support an eighteen-month education policy analyst at the Foundation, and capacity building for community based organizations in the Alliance Districts.
Again, much of this work is emerging, so please check back for updates on our efforts and progress!