The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced today Together for Tomorrow, a new initiative to spotlight existing and spur new community engagement in turning around persistently low-performing schools.
"Together for Tomorrow is aimed at changing the relationship between schools and community partners so everyone feels a shared responsibility to improve low-performing schools," said Joshua DuBois, special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "Every child deserves an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy. Faith and community groups are critical partners in this all-hands on deck moment."
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the initiative during a town hall meeting at Memorial Middle School in Orlando, Fla.
"Community and family involvement can be the make or break factor in successfully turning around low-performing schools," said Duncan. "Together for Tomorrow will provide real-life examples of how to effectively transform our struggling schools, and build a community-to-community support system that can help take this critical work to scale."
Duncan was joined by fellow Administration officials including, DuBois, Robert Velasco, II, acting chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to the President for Education Policy. Also in attendance were U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, and Brian Gallagher, chief executive officer and president of United Way Worldwide and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
"Harnessing the power of national service to help improve schools across the nation is a great example of community driven solutions at work," said Velasco. "The partnership of schools to their local communities is a natural marriage and the clearest pathway to provide these schools with the tools and resources necessary for success."
The initiative will promote a community culture where education improvement is viewed as everyone's responsibility. The work of skilled principals, teachers and school staff, in concert with dedicated parents, community organizations and volunteers will achieve positive results with the support of Together for Tomorrow.
The community surrounding Orlando's Memorial Middle School is one of six demonstration sites, acting as examples for effective community participation in school intervention efforts. The site is led locally by the Heart of Florida United Way in cooperation with Orange County Public Schools and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's Cities of Service initiative. Additional sites include communities in Center and Denver, Colo.; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans, La; and Memphis, Tenn.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Education will officially launch the initiative with a series of partnership events and a national challenge through Challenge.gov. The initiative's efforts will focus on community and family partnerships' ability to boost key measurable student outcomes--Attendance, Behavior, Course performance, and College access, the ABCs of improving low-performing schools. Together for Tomorrow will also spotlight exemplary programs underway that have strong capacity to manage school-community partnerships and demonstrate progress in the ABCs. Supporting services will involve providing guidance on how to harness existing federal, private and nonprofit funding streams in addition to connecting local programs with technical assistance opportunities.
Following the official launch, regional Together for Tomorrow events will be held in demonstration site locations and other areas across the country in urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities.
Communities interested in details and updates on the Together for Tomorrow challenge should email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ed.gov/edpartners. Press inquiries should be sent to the U.S. Department of Education at email@example.com. For national service inquiries, please contact Sara Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.