Progress through Partnership

2016 East Hartford Family Community Forum

How can schools and school districts support student success? Challenging curriculum, inspired teaching and vigilant school boards are all essential to engaging students—but so are the relationships that students and their families have with educators, their neighborhoods and communities.

Students need to know that they are valued beyond their test scores; that they are seen as individuals with their own voice, hopes and dreams. Students need adults in their lives to work together to support them and to provide them with different types of opportunities to envision, expect and experience success, both in and out of school.

This is especially true in our region’s highest-need school districts: Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Vernon, Windsor Locks and Windsor.

In 2016, the Foundation awarded grants totaling more than $3 million to these districts, and coupled with each grant a host of technical assistance, training and coaching resources.

These investments will help the districts to transform the experience of learning and school through new family, school and community partnerships, meeting students’ needs for much more than academic instruction.

“While we all know the adage, ‘it takes a village,’ this grant truly moves to the heart of developing the systems, links and conditions that make ‘the village’ happen,” shared East Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Nathan Quesnel.

Here are just two examples of how districts changed their engagement practice to benefit thousands of students and families:

A Quarterly Colloquium convened by the Foundation regularly brings some of the nation’s leading researchers and systems change experts to Greater Hartford to support superintendents and their leadership teams and partners.  These convenings of community schools and school districts have addressed such critical issues as racial equity and culturally sustaining practice, pending educational policy change and effective models of educational systems reform.

The results and benefits of the Foundation’s work in education in 2016 include:

  • A new “community of practice” comprised of leaders throughout the region who are invested in developing family, school and community partnerships that substantially increase students’ opportunities to learn and experience success.
  • New leadership positions in six school districts, bringing greater depth to the districts’ partnerships.
  • Documented improvements in schools’ culture.
  • Reductions in student suspensions and expulsions.
  • Increases in student attendance.
  • Improvements in students and schools’ academic performance.
  • Development of innovative new educational programs in six school districts.
  • New “community advisory groups” that are helping to inform district partnerships.

Lessons learned through these efforts and the Foundation’s companion investments in Hartford Community Schools are also shared through convenings regularly conducted by the Foundation. These gatherings support the districts’ regular use of research and data to guide decision-making and focus on related policy, financial and fund development issues.

You can learn more about the Foundation’s education strategy and the many ways districts are fostering stronger partnerships at hfpg.org/education.