Six Strategies to Mobilize our Village
“It Takes a Village – Mobilizing Community for Student Success”
Our children are Louisville’s most precious and important asset and their education is a vital part of our community’s future success. There are many challenges faced by our children in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). Factors large and small affect student success, from equity and access, arriving at kindergarten ready to learn, and staying engaged in the classroom to advancing towards graduation and being prepared for college and the workforce. The solutions aren’t easy and now is a critical time to rally together and be the resource our children need.
The 2019 Bingham Fellows are mobilizing community to bring more equity, better access, quality programs, and academic experiences to support JCPS in providing exceptional education for our children. Our future, our city’s future, depends on it.
WE ALL PLAY A ROLE
It is an old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Because we’re talking about our children, we believe the village must include everyone who lives, works in, and loves our great city of Louisville.
WHO WE ARE
The 41 community leaders who came together as the Bingham Fellows Class of 2019 know that mobilizing a village isn’t an easy task. We also know this is only the very beginning of what we hope will be a long-lasting effort across Louisville.
As with every Bingham Fellows class, we are made up of diverse, local leaders with a broad knowledge base and range of experiences. We bring expertise in education, finance, law, public safety, economic development, and community organizing. We are all connected to Louisville and its schools in some way and we are all invested through taxes. We share a passion for creating positive change for our city, its schools, and our community’s children.
Our goal was to spend one year understanding the key challenges that often prevent students from being successful in school and then create viable solutions that can be implemented by parents, families, schools, businesses, and other members in our community.
WHAT WE LEARNED
We began this journey connected by a common desire to make a positive impact for our children. From the start, it was clear that we felt charged with an important task. Through this program, we all gained further appreciation for the urgency and depth of this challenge. We learned that it cannot just be the job of JCPS to tackle all the barriers that our children face. We understand that in order to change the outcome, we must all mobilize in ways that will positively impact the lives and future generations of our children.
WHAT WE PROPOSE
We have developed six strategies to mobilize our village to enhance student success. These strategies involve mobilizing community inside of JCPS, as well as mobilizing community outside of school.
STRATEGIES TO MOBILIZE OUR VILLAGE: INSIDE JCPS
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
Out of the 100,000 students in JCPS, at least 5,000 are homeless at any given time, yet 40 percent don’t utilize available services. We found that the stigma of homelessness was a significant barrier for students and families making use of available resources.
With input from students, parents, JCPS leaders, and community advocates, we’ve developed a two-phase information campaign to destigmatize homelessness and increase availability of information.
Through partnerships with JCPS and Bellarmine’s NEXU agency, an active social media campaign and videos have already launched and print materials will be rolled out and used for training JCPS teachers, administrators, and staff starting with the 2020-21 year. The second phase is part of a larger community-wide homelessness awareness effort headed by Access Ventures and Kertis Creative, beginning in April 2020.
The bottom line: The numbers are staggering, but resources exist to serve more students and families. This campaign communicates how everyone in our community can help.
DEEPER LEARNING EXCHANGE
The story of the Deeper Learning Exchange is one of curiosity.
To be curious is to be eager to know or learn something. We are born curious, imbued with the spark of imagination. Keeping the spark of curiosity alive – that’s what the Deeper Learning Exchange is all about.
The Deeper Learning Exchange is a web-based platform where community education providers can create programming that promotes experiential learning in the classroom. The goal is to connect children in our community to learning experiences that are student-centered, inquiry-based, and designed for impact.
Learning is best when it takes you beyond yourself into a world of possibility, and possibility begins with curiosity.
That is the story of the Deeper Learning Exchange.
GIRLS ON THE R.I.S.E.
Middle school is hard! Having a lower sense of belonging – a key indicator of success – than your peers shouldn’t be an added burden. Unfortunately, this is the current reality for girls of color within JCPS.
This inequity spurred us to find and accelerate a program for middle school girls of color. We found a champion already imbedded within JCPS. The Girls on the R.I.S.E. (GOTR) program has empowered girls for 4 years and is expanding to reach more girls. Through curriculum, teacher-led weekly meetings, and a summer program, GOTR offers empowering emotional intelligence, self-esteem building, and supportive peer relationships while building academic skills.
Our investment is four-fold: (1) develop measures of success specific to a sense of belonging (2) recruit community organizations to support the weekend programming (3) develop a SME roster for the teachers (4) create a marketing campaign to raise community awareness.
STRATEGIES TO MOBILIZE OUR VILLAGE: OUT OF SCHOOL
PLAY YOUR WAY TO K
School readiness has proven to be a consistent challenge in our community, and many of our children begin their school careers at a distinct disadvantage. There are many factors that affect a child’s ability to be school ready and there are many community efforts underway to help solve this issue.
We found that lack of access to a formal preschool setting as a major barrier for many students. Caregivers are children’s “first and best” teachers, so we’ve developed tools that stress the importance of play as a great way for students to learn and capitalize on everyday activities. Play Your Way to K is innovative in that it meets caregivers where they currently are, whether that be a doctor’s office, the laundromat, or anywhere that a family has a little free time that can be made to be fun, engaging and educational.
Middle school students from under-served families perform 2.5 grade levels below standards in reading and math. A local organization called Educational Justice is working to change this by recruiting talented high school students, training them to become tutors, and pairing them with struggling middle schoolers. They currently provide weekly, one-on-one tutoring with 200 pairs of students at 6 locations. They plan to grow to 1000 pairs by 2022-23.
Pathway Pavers are working to ensure the success of this organization for growth in Louisville and beyond. We are focused on three objectives: recruiting volunteers to supervise sites; developing a best practices playbook for recruitment, retention, and support of the volunteers; and positioning Educational Justice to expand into new cities.
Enrich Louisville seeks to increase access to Louisville’s out of school time activities by creating a coalition of out of school time providers working together to reduce barriers for all students.
Out of school time (OST) learning is pivotal to a child’s academic growth. However, 85% of Kentucky children do not have access to quality out of school time activities. This percentage is higher among minorities and those from disadvantaged areas.
While OST providers face unique challenges, many face similar fundamental issues such as lack of funding, transportation and awareness. We plan to address these common issues among providers by fostering communication, creating a collaborative environment, and advocating for change.
Beginning with the Enrich Louisville Summit, we will gather OST providers to address issues such as business planning, marketing, funding, and awareness, among others. Our goal is to create an active group of OST providers working together as a coalition to tackle barriers that keep students from participating in enrichment opportunities.
ABOUT THE BINGHAM FELLOWS
The Bingham Fellows program is the advanced leadership program of the Leadership Louisville Center. Created in 1988 through a $500,000 endowment from the Mary and Barry Bingham Sr. Fund, the Fellows are social entrepreneurs who have the imagination and talent needed to gather critical resources and create social change. Side by side with peers, participants work to develop dynamic and innovative solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges. Now graduating the 27th class, the Bingham Fellows have an impressive track record of providing community issues with visibility and momentum.
The Fellows don’t ponder what might be. They roll up their sleeves, shine a spotlight on an issue and put new ideas to work. Their impact includes recent projects such as the West Louisville community development organization OneWest, regular Café Louie conversations with elected officials at Louisville Free Public Library locations, a sustainable model for neighborhood ‘Little Free Libraries,’ and creation of City Champs, a talent attraction and retention program now managed by Greater Louisville Inc., and assistance leading to the opening of the Smoketown Family Wellness Center. The impact of the Fellows goes back to the 1990s with the creation of The Housing Partnership, construction of the Presbyterian Community Center, growth of local farmers’ markets, and numerous other positive outcomes.