Yesterday Commit! issued its May monthly newsletter. In it, we recap our progress from the prior month, share our priorities for the month ahead, spotlight other collaborative action initiatives, and share relevant news and resources. You can find a text copy of the newsletter below:
First and foremost, a note of gratitude and congratulations to all of the educators, parents, and students who are bringing their school year to a close. We have heard many success stories within Dallas County education, and we are here to support your hard work.
In this newsletter, we are pleased to share meaningful recent progress in our efforts. We are sensing momentum in conversations across the community as we’ve continued to define our role and those of our partners, increased our staff capacity, and taken a lead in growing both student intern opportunities and enrollment in the State’s Kindergarten Readiness System (see below).
As always, we welcome your feedback, especially as we begin to narrow in on our strategic priorities, and appreciate your continued support.
1. Updating and learning from the Commit! community. During the month of May, we were honored to meet with and gain feedback from several education and leadership groups, includingHead Start of Greater Dallas, Hispanic 100, North Texas TxCAN, University Crossroads (a P-16 Council affiliated with Dallas ISD), and Dallas Social Venture Partners. We also had the unique opportunity to contribute to the public conversation about education at a briefing of state and federal legislators, an SMU symposium, and an appearance on Krys Boyd’s Think (click on the link for the full podcast). As a result, we’ve steadily expanded the size of this movement with over 1,500 individuals on our distribution list!
2. Launching a campaign to encourage early childhood providers to participate in the State’s Kindergarten Readiness System (KRS) by July 31. KRS represents an important first step in demonstrating the commitment of our community to providing quality early childhood services and education. KRS will identify PreK Centers of Excellence by linking student success on Kindergarten literacy testing to the preK provider that prepared the student. Thus far, 17 District campuses and 49 licensed child care centers have enrolled online, with many more in progress. To learn more, please read the kick-off letter sent earlier this month and read below for information about our next steps in support of this important effort.
3. Continuing to build out the Commit! team and Strategy Committee. In the coming weeks, we are excited to welcome three new team members to our staff! We are also pleased to welcome Trisha Cunningham and Michele Bobadilla to our Strategy Committee. Trisha, from Texas Instruments, has replaced Arturo Sanchez, who recently joined NASA in Houston. Michele, a provost from UT-Arlington, will serve as a liaison for University Crossroads, a third P-16 council in the Dallas area. She will also represent the fifth higher education institution on the Committee (UNT, Paul Quinn, DCCCD, TWU and UTA).
What’s next on the horizon …
1. Pursue more formal District support. Having had introductory conversations with the majority of the K-12 Districts serving at least 3,000 students within Dallas County, we will begin to address District leaders about establishing more formal partnerships in the coming months. We will be meeting with key members of the foundational, parent, teaching, business, and nonprofit communities to measure support and seek their institutional commitment. The intention is to agree to common expectations for promoting the effective use of data, identifying and sharing best practices, coordinating action along the cradle to career continuum where possible, and providing input and support for prioritized areas of impact.
2. Continue to encourage early childhood providers to enroll in the online Kindergarten Readiness System. In collaboration with ChildCareGroup,Region 10 Education Service Center, Head Start of Greater Dallas, and ISDs across the County, we will continue to push for increased enrollment of all preK classrooms by the July 31 deadline. While dates and locations are still to be determined, we hope to schedule a series of “data throwdowns” which invite providers to join their peers, receive technical support, and complete the online enrollment process. Please contact Marnie Glaser with any questions or to report your enrollment in the system.
3. Partner with Bank of America and Education Is Freedom to expand the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program. Most immediately, this partnership will work to expand available high school internships within the City of Dallas. By placing 40 interns from local high schools in paid positions at area nonprofits through the generosity of Bank of America, we hope to provide invaluable work experience for students while also creating value for nonprofits needing additional help during the summer. We are also working to identify other work-related volunteer and community service opportunities for roughly 100 more students and welcome any and all leads. Please contact Adam Powell.
4. Gather input to determine which indicators to prioritize on the cradle-to-career continuum. In the month of June we will formally release a short, open survey inviting community members to weigh in and tell us in which areas (i.e., early childhood, elementary school, middle school, high school, post-secondary) we ought to focus and support/develop Collaborative Action Networks. If you just can’t wait, you can provide early input here.
Commit! intends to lift up partnerships which use data-informed practices to drive improved results for students. If you know of another existing collaborative partnership or network that is using data-driven best practices, please email email@example.com to share with us. Here we feature one example:
Celebrating Collaborative Action
WHAT: The Zero To Five Funders’ Collaborative identified a need for school-readiness in low-income areas, and specifically in the Bachman Lake Community. To help make a positive impact over a five-year period, 30 foundations combined their efforts to make a bigger impact than any one organization could individually, including an extensive evaluation component in partnership with SMU. The Collaborative funds programs that equip, encourage and support parents and caregivers to prepare children for success in school, starting in kindergarten.
ACADEMIC INDICATOR(S) THEY HOPE TO IMPROVE: Kindergarten Readiness, specifically vocabulary levels
RECENT ACTIVITIES: The Collaborative has chosen to fund four programs in the Bachman Lake community for five years:AVANCE, Catholic Charities, The Concilio, and East Dallas Community Schools. The initiative has provided direct services to a total of 2,344 children and 2,412 parents during its first three years. Over the full five years, the agencies will provide direct services to at least 4,200 parents and more than 5,200 children.
Want to get involved? We welcome your ideas any time and encourage you to forward this update to friends and colleagues interested in education by simply clicking on the forward button at the top of this newsletter! As mentioned above, we also invite you to help us prioritize the indicators on the cradle-to-career continuum by completing this brief survey.
News and Resources
We’re constantly on the look out for the most relevant local, State, and national education news we can find. Feel free to forward your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What are other cities doing to ensure that more young children (ages 0-8) are ready for educational success? This set of case studies shares how Boston, Hartford, San Antonio, San José and Seattle are aligning early childhood and K-12 education systems.
2. Haven’t heard of early college high schools yet? Read and watch how local students are graduating high school with their Associate’s Degrees.
3. Still not convinced that education and economics are intimately connected? This brief Wall Street Journal article offers a global perspective
4. Why does mentoring matter? Dallas’ own Byron Sanders breaks it down in his five-minute TEDxSMU talk.
5. Curious about other Commit!-like initiatives across the country? Learn more about twelve similar collaboratives in these profiles published by The Bridgespan Group.