The NEA Foundation embraces deep and enduring collaboration among the local teachers union and the teachers they represent, the district and community as a core philanthropic strategy. In our funded sites, local collaborative teams plan and execute a wide array of high-leverage reforms over the course of five years. The sustainability of these efforts is in large part driven by input and support from business, neighborhood groups, parents and families, community-based service providers, and local education funds or school foundations. The premise is straightforward: we believe that sustainability and scale can be achieved most effectively when top-down and bottom-up strategies converge and are aligned.
This Issue Brief highlights the collaborative work of two communities currently funded by the NEA Foundation as part of its Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative—Lee County, FL and Springfield, MA. In each of these communities, community partners have been engaged to achieve initiative goals by generating a shared agenda for reform and by bringing specific community-based assets to the bear on the development, implementation and sustainability of that agenda. Lessons learned from these two communities can be applied to any community and school district, especially wherever economic or social hardship continue to demand new resources and renewed public will to effect enduring change.
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President & CEO, The NEA Foundation