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The African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. What does that look like when we consider how to best educate our young people for the challenges of the 21st century? Is it early learning opportunities or after-school enrichment? Perhaps it's tutoring, mentoring and career counseling. Or is it college preparation? What are the key ingredients?

 

Well, in addition to the unmistakable need for quality schools and involved parents, there is a growing trend to bring other stakeholders, such as business leaders, social service agencies, and community organizers to the table and have them work collectively to support and invest in the education of children, thereby cultivating the human capital and the economic development of their community.

 

There are over 40 states with these diverse groupings of stakeholders called P-16 Councils and one right here in Cleveland that is drawing on the strengths and resources of the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood. With the Third Federal Foundation as its anchor, the Broadway P-16 Program has a clear vision and four goals it is working towards.

 

The Third Federal Savings and Loan opened its first branch in 1938 on Broadway Avenue. It has remained rooted in the neighborhood and over the years has witnessed the economic decline and the challenges poverty brings to an area.

 

In 2010 it saw a unique opportunity for it to be a convener for educational reform and enrichment in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). At that time, CMSD was working on their Transformation Plan, there were changes in the Cuyahoga County government, new funding opportunities in youth programming were available, and strong community organizing and development by Slavic Village CDC was well-recognized in the community.

 

Building off these conditions, the Third Federal Foundation was able to bring together leaders and community members and found that they were interested in the P-16 model. With weekly and monthly meetings, the Broadway P-16 Program now has over 100 members working together to serve children in Slavic Village.

 

The Broadway model which is a place-based approach, focused on one neighborhood, believes its efforts of bringing systems together, strengthening alliances, and re-directing & realigning resources as a part of a single-coordinated effort could eventually be replicated in other areas of Cleveland.

 

Kurt Karakul, President and Director of the Third Federal Foundation sees its role of bringing people together as one of the greatest strengths of the P-16 program. He says, “It’s been satisfying to see community partners whom have broken down the silos in which they were previously working and have begun to collaborate to reach our educational and youth development goals.”

 

The vision of the Broadway P-16 Program desires that, “Every young person in the Broadway neighborhood experiences high quality learning that strengthens their talents, expands their resiliency, and prepares them to be productive citizens and participants in the region's economy.”

 

To that end, the program has focused their efforts in 4 areas:

 

These goals get accomplished through partner programs and lead agencies, all part of the Broadway P-16 Project.  Some projects have been small in scale and others more far reaching. The America Scores program provided after-school activities in the form of soccer training and poetry writing & reading at four elementary schools that previously had no programming for kids after school. Nook E-readers were secured by the P-16 Project that downloaded all the textbooks needed for 6th through 12th grade. This was the first time students had current textbooks with the added benefit of tutorials and research sites available through the device. Other programs have focused on tutoring, leadership skills, kindergarten readiness, family literacy, and academic scholarships to name a few.

 

There are challenges that arise from working with a wide array of organizations and individuals.  Marie Kittredge, director of the Slavic Village Development Corporation and member of the Broadway P-16 Project, says they are addressing issues one step at a time. “The work of the first couple of years has been to get our arms around the networks of services that work with Broadway Slavic Village Youth, and to build collaboration and cooperation among the groups and networks. That has definitely been accomplished...now we are ready to tackle the next challenge.”  

 

Perhaps even more difficult than coordination is the question of measuring outcomes. Kittredge reports progress on this front. She says, “We are establishing shared benchmarks and metrics that work for all the partners, but that don’t require major investments of time and/or money to implement.  We have been able to use the MyCom work on evaluation as a foundation, in combination with benchmarks and data that other partners are collecting, and should have clear baseline and benchmarks in the next couple of months.”

 

The Broadway P-16 Project is in its early stages, but it believes it has already been successful because it has effectively included the wider community to be part of the solution. When it looks to the future, Karakul thinks the time couldn't be more right for improvement. “I’m most proud of being part of the team that helped pass a school levy for the first time in 16 years and has convinced the community that we must invest in education. I hope to work with Eric Gordon and our P-16 Partners and the entire community over the next year to implement the Cleveland Plan.”

 

*Kurt Karakul is a board member of The Literacy Cooperative.

 

Other Resources:

 P-16 & P-20 Initiatives across the U.S.

Search Institute: discovering what kids need to succeed-an engaged community

CMSD's Cleveland Plan

 

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