16 winning initiatives will tackle systems changes needed to help children and families living in poverty move up the economic ladder
CINCINNATI, OH — StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids, today announced the first group of awardees for its Cradle to Career Community Challenge grant program. More than $20 million over the next three years will fund projects across the country that aim to shift public policy and engage the systems needed to help students progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and finding a job.
Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge. This grant program seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The goal is to strengthen and align the many systems, such as education, employment, health and housing, that shape opportunity for children and families in America.
“Education is key to a strong economy, and every child should have the opportunity to achieve his or her fullest potential, but existing systems don’t always support the success of students, particularly students of color and those from low-income families,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “Using the common language of data, we can create better, more equitable systems to improve outcomes for major milestones in every child’s life. Our Cradle to Career Community Challenge will enhance and expand the real, lasting results underway across our 70 communities.”
The Community Challenge program consists of two funds:
- The Strategic Initiatives Fund supports projects working to advance policy change for children by engaging policy leaders, leading grassroots advocacy, and coordinating efforts within state and local coalitions. Seven partner organizations were awarded grants of up to $350,000 per year for three years.
- The Opportunity Fund will scale the work in communities that have received StriveTogether’s highest designation for achieving better results using a data-driven approach. Their projects focus on deeper systems change and align education with additional sectors such as health, housing and transportation. Nine communities were awarded grants of up to $500,000 per year for three years.
“Collective impact — bringing together policymakers and education leaders with business, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to work on a common goal through the common language of data — has proven successful across dozens of StriveTogether communities. It’s time to scale our local success stories and start to move the needle state by state, across the nation,” said Nancy Zimpher, StriveTogether board chair and chancellor emeritus of the State University of New York.
The Cradle to Career Community Challenge is funded by Ballmer Group, the philanthropy co-founded by civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and chairman of the LA Clippers. Grantees are expected to secure matching funding in years two and three of the program through local fundraising efforts, raising the overall investment in communities to potentially more than $30 million.
The Strategic Initiatives Fund will support these seven policy-focused projects:
Statewide Texas, led by Commit (Dallas County)
- Project: Align state coalition to advocate for data-driven decision making and more equitable funding for public schools; increased funding for strategies proven to boost third-grade reading proficiency; equitable staffing of the best teachers in classrooms where they are needed the most; and increased postsecondary completion rates.
Statewide Minnesota, led by Generation Next (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
- Project: Mobilize parents from cradle-to-career initiatives across the state to amplify their voices and expand their capacity in advocacy and policy work; and expand the number of communities using proven techniques embedded into the cradle-to-career approach.
Statewide Washington, led by Graduate Tacoma
- Project: Advocate for equitable funding for K-12 and high-quality early care and education through new state-level advocacy network with a legislative agenda and technology for grass-roots mobilization.
Statewide Utah, led by Promise Partnership of Salt Lake
- Project: Pair grass-roots mobilization and a public awareness campaign with legislative strategy to achieve statewide preschool program, with a quality rating system that provides clarity and transparency for providers and educators, parents and the state Legislature.
Statewide Wisconsin, led by Milwaukee Succeeds
- Project: Address through community engagement and mobilization systems-level barriers that prevent families from accessing high-quality early care and education.
Statewide Ohio, led by StrivePartnership (Cincinnati)
- Project: Achieve by 2025 the Ohio Attainment Goal of 65 percent of residents ages 25 to 64 with a degree, certificate or postsecondary workforce credential through better communications and strategies, including re-enrolling Ohioans close to completion.
San Antonio and Bexar County regional effort, led by P16 Plus Council of Greater Bexar County
- Project: Train young people as leaders to advocate for more aligned and equitable investments in their future and equip youth and local policymakers with a fiscal map of all revenue streams affecting child and youth outcomes in San Antonio, making historical funding disparities more visible.
The Opportunity Fund will support these nine community projects:
Central Texas (E3 Alliance)
- Project: Work with partners to reduce education disparities in Central Texas for outcomes directly linked to economic mobility.
Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky (StrivePartnership)
- Project: Focus technical support in data analytics, continuous improvement and equitable community engagement strategies to align existing systems.
Dallas County (The Commit Partnership)
- Project: Design and execute a strategy to dramatically improve upward mobility through substantial increases in postsecondary attainment and career readiness.
Dayton/Montgomery County, Ohio (Learn to Earn Dayton)
- Project: Achieve substantial equitable systems change with an equity action plan and Equity Fellows in schools, especially those serving many underrepresented students.
Tacoma, Wash. (Graduate Tacoma)
- Project: Address upward mobility by extending existing collaborative impact work into adjacent systems focusing specifically on equity.
Portland/Multnomah County, Ore. (All Hands Raised)
- Project: Achieve system change by operationalizing equity, aligning key adjacent sectors and driving policy change through best practices.
Racine County, Wis. (Higher Expectations for Racine County)
- Project: Develop a fully capable and employed workforce in Racine County.
Shelby County, Tenn. (Seeding Success)
- Project: Scale up support for improved postsecondary readiness and attainment outcomes in service of greater upward mobility for Black and Latino youth.
Spartanburg County, S.C. (Spartanburg Academic Movement)
- Project: Work on deeper systems change throughout the community by building the capacity of the backbone and its scholastic partners.