As hundreds of leaders and practitioners across sectors converge in Memphis for StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Network Convening, we are proud to announce the designation of StrivePartnership of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as our first Proof Point Community, celebrating the achievements of local partners and institutions working together to change how education systems work to improve outcomes from cradle to career.
After a decade of cross-sector efforts, nearly 80 percent of key indicators of student success are improving. And, behaviors, policies and practices have changed and continue to change across the community to align efforts and resources to improve outcomes from kindergarten readiness through post-secondary completion.
When StrivePartnership started in 2006, a group of leaders from various sectors throughout the Cincinnati area came together with a common goal: to improve academic success in the urban core. More than 300 cross-sector representatives joined the partnership, including school district superintendents, early-childhood educators, nonprofit practitioners, business leaders, community and corporate funders, city officials and university presidents.
By sitting around the same table, partners were able to align around shared educational goals and outcomes.
Now, 10 years later, organizations, institutions, and community members — including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, United Way, Cincinnati Public Schools and the business community — are aligning their work to support a shared cradle-to-career vision.
Here are some of the successes StrivePartnership and its partners have had recently that exemplify how systems are changing:
1) Investing in what works: Public and private funders are changing the way they think about investments, recognizing the importance of investing in high-impact, evidence-based, scalable interventions in ways that secure sustainable public funding. Every Child Capital, a first-in-the-nation venture philanthropy fund focused on scaling proven early literacy interventions that have a business case for public funding and a secured public partner, has attracted more than $4 million dollars in funding.
Cincinnati Public Schools, in partnership with the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, is pursuing an unprecedented November 2016 levy to significantly expand access to preschool and strengthen the pre-K-12 public school system so every child has a strong start and a strong future.
2) Using continuous improvement: Over the last year, StrivePartnership developed a rapid-cycle continuous improvement capability training series, Impact U, for the region’s education leaders with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCHMC) and StriveTogether. Community leaders are improving early grade reading, and a key Cincinnati Public Schools executive is now working half time at Children’s Hospital to ensure true collaboration.
“The bold experiment of ImpactU to build community capacity to have meaningful quality improvement skills that start small but build up in a systematic way is a critical partnership between CCHMC and StrivePartnership,” Tom DeWitt of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said.
3) Aligning postsecondary partners: A collaborative of two- and four-year institutions from Ohio and Kentucky are analyzing data across postsecondary institutions to understand root causes for low postsecondary attainment through the Persistence Project. Spending time together strengthened relationships and allowed for sharing data across state lines, which is almost impossible.
“The work done across higher educational institutions might be difficult to continue without the avenue and opportunity that StrivePartnership provides to collaborate. It helps to have a regional focus. With the catalyst to move it forward, that has a bigger impact than working alone,” Dr. Patricia Mahabir of Gateway Community College said.
The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, which represents 68 communities across 32 states, is working toward the common result of the success of every child from cradle to career. StriveTogether has developed a method to assess the effectiveness of collective impact partnerships, helping communities stay focused on results and sustain impact over time. A community in the Cradle to Career Network will be designated as a Proof Point community when 60 percent of indicators across six cradle-to-career outcomes are maintained or improved year after year. Additionally, community leaders across sectors must demonstrate evidence of changing how systems work in four key areas: shared community vision, evidence-based decision making, collaborative action, and investment and sustainability.
StrivePartnership and its partners continue to strengthen civic infrastructure to support local efforts to achieve better and more equitable outcomes for children. Local partners are focused on continuing to build capability of leaders and practitioners to use data for improvement, adopt intentional strategies to address structural inequities, and expand parent and community engagement. They continue to pursue innovative approaches to align resources to what works, including public funding through a school levy to expand quality preschool.
Being designated as Proof Point is a significant achievement, but it represents a milestone – not the culmination of the journey. We congratulate StrivePartnership on this milestone, and we look forward to seeing the impact they will continue to make in the future.