In 2019, Building Our Future was offered the opportunity for a team of backbone staff and partners to be part of StriveTogether’s Equitable Results Series, an intensive 10-month program designed to equip us as leaders with skills in Annie E. Casey’s Results Count™* framework, including adaptive leadership, holding accountability for equitable results, and using oneself as an instrument of change. This is the first article in a 2-part series.
In partnership with the Kenosha Public Library (KPL) and Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), our team set out to improve early grade reading outcomes and decrease racial disparities at two elementary schools: Curtis Strange Elementary and Grant Elementary. By joining forces and leveraging different organizational strengths, our team's challenge was to demonstrate how, by focusing on data, continuous improvement, and adaptive leadership, we could start to move the needle in literacy outcomes at a student- and school-level.
Before deciding what we would do, we had to start with the big result--
ALL children in Kenosha County complete 3rd grade reading at grade level.
From there, we set a goal:
50% of 3rd graders overall at Grant Elementary & Curtis Strange Elementary score proficient in the 2020
Forward exam ELA (English-Language Arts), with 50% of Black 3rd graders scoring proficient.
This goal was set using the idea of Targeted Universalism--that in order to move a population level results, we must target strategies towards the groups that are disproportionately burdened by the system, while also enacting universal strategies that will lead to changing systems so they work for all students.
Although ambitious, StriveTogether guided our team to identify and refine strategies to meet this target over the course of the program by continually naming and validating factors with families, tying strategies and tactics to those specific factors, and holding the result as our line of sight. Through this process, the team identified two overarching strategies with multiple components for each, visually shown here:
The two that this team specifically dug in around were:
Using the Plan-Do-Study-Act tool, our team developed and tested one targeted and one universal approach. What we did, and how that will be applied, is summarized here:
This work, obviously, all took place pre-COVID. Given the changes and stresses our community has undergone in the last couple months, we know there will be a new normal. We know these strategies will need to shift and reshape in order to support our students and families. We also know that out of crisis can come innovation, and there is, now more than ever, an increasing urgency around changing our systems so they work for ALL children. The learnings we took from this program were not around specific strategy, but rather are around process to determine the strategies. Using this process, with fidelity, will help our community to find a new normal grounded in equity. This work will continue, and we will apply what we’ve collectively learned to our new future. Stay tuned for Equitable Results Series Part 2: The Lessons.
*Results Count™ is grounded in two frameworks:
StriveTogether, a national network bringing communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids, is offering a scholarship opportunity for current high school seniors and students enrolled in a post secondary institution in communities served by a partnership in its Cradle to Career Network. Because of the work of Building Our Future, students in Kenosha County are eligible for the Art Inspires scholarship.
Students are challenged to create art that responds to their choice of two poems by spoken word poet Christian Paige, “Trees” or “The Eyes of your Enemy.” StriveTogether will select up to 10 works of art to be featured in one of its offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, or Chicago, Ill. Selected student artists each will receive a $1,000 scholarship to support coursework at a post secondary institution in the 2019-2020 academic year. The artwork created through this opportunity will inspire StriveTogether staff and partners daily as they work to achieve the organization’s vision: the success of every child cradle to career.
Applications must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 10, 2019. Each submission must include a video by the artist explaining the piece’s inspiration and meaning as well as a completed scholarship application and proof of enrollment or intent to enroll in a post secondary institution. Scholarship winners will be notified by May 29, 2019.
Learn more at https://www.strivetogether.org/library/art-inspires-scholarship-calls-for-interpretation-of-spoken-word-poems/
THE WISCONSIN PARTNERSHIP RECEIVES NEARLY $350,000 THROUGH $20 MILLION GRANT PROGRAM BY NATIONAL NONPROFIT STRIVETOGETHER TO USE DATA TO IMPROVE RESULTS FOR KIDS
The Wisconsin Partnership one of 16 winning initiatives that will tackle systems changes needed to help children and families living in poverty move up the economic ladder
KENOSHA, WI — The Wisconsin Partnership, which includes Building Our Future, Milwaukee Succeeds, Higher Expectations for Racine County, and Achieve Brown County has received nearly $350,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids. The Wisconsin Partnership will use its grant award to test, learn, and spread strategies focused on advancing policy change within Wisconsin.
The grant award is part of StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge, which seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The program’s 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.
“This project will allow Building Our Future to elevate our work in state and local activities in order to generate meaningful student outcomes at scale,” said Tatjana Bicanin, executive director of Building Our Future.
“We have leadership from all sectors of Kenosha County that understand the need for alignment,” said Jean Moran, former CEO of LMI Packaging and executive sponsor. “We all know there is much more work to do. The best news of all is that we are ready, willing, and able to do what is needed.”
The Wisconsin Partnership will focus on addressing mobilization of systems-level barriers that prevent families from accessing high-quality early care and education through community engagement.
Through the Community Challenge, 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.
The Wisconsin Partnership is receiving its grant through the Community Challenge’s Strategic Initiatives Fund, which supports projects working to advance policy change for children by engaging policy leaders, leading grassroots advocacy and coordinating efforts within state and local coalitions. As part of the Strategic Initiatives Fund, the Wisconsin Partnership has one of seven policy-focused projects being awarded grants of up to $350,000 per year for three years. Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.
“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.”
About Building Our Future
Building Our Future is Kenosha County’s first cradle to career collective impact effort focused on
education and workforce development with leadership representing schools, businesses,
government, civic organizations, and nonprofits, committed to improving student outcomes. As a community we focus on three shared goals: Every child enters school ready to learn, Every student succeeds in school, and Every student succeeds in a career.
StriveTogether leads a national movement of 70 communities to get better results in every child’s
life. We coach and connect partners across the country to close gaps by using local data, especially for children of color and low-income children. Communities using our proven approach have seen measurable gains in kindergarten readiness, academic achievement and postsecondary success. The
StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.4 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.