by Nick Randell, Program Officer
[Part 4 of a 4-part blog series on our introduction to the LD field]
In the last blog, I introduced Tower's partnership with New
Profit. I thought I would take this
space to describe some of the more concrete accomplishments of the
collaborative to date. Some are right at
the center of the network's focus, others are more of a spin-off, but probably
wouldn't have happened without it.
Indulge a favorite device of the lazy blogger - the bulleted list. Many of these merit blog posts in their own
right, so stay tuned.
- Investments in promising
non-profits. New Profit enters into
a several year-long investment of capital and technical assistance with
non-profits of particular potential. Whether it's leadership development, fundraising capacity, strategy, or
organizational structure, New Profit helps an organization chart a smart growth
trajectory. Under the umbrella of
Reimagining Learning, New Profit has partnered with organizations that provide
mentoring to middle school kids with LD, offer a model for classrooms that
promote self-directed learning, and provide a web-enabled support community for
teachers and administrators.
- Seed dollars for new
ventures. Recent investments have supported a partnership between
researchers at the University of Kansas and the New Teacher Center. The New Teacher Center works with thousands
of teachers across the country, and this collaboration can help get proven
educational tools into the classroom in ways that recognize the real-world
conditions in which teachers, particularly new ones, operate. Another investment in program incubation
involves creation of a new charter school in Denver Colorado. This venture brings together educational
innovators from Johns Hopkins University and City Year, an organization that
supports the service work of new college graduates in under-performing school
- An emerging policy
platform. New Profit's policy group,
America Forward, has been crafting a clearly articulated message that reflects
an overall network agenda and that will ultimately be used to promote policy
change at state and federal levels.
- A plan for impact in
Western New York and Eastern Massachusetts. This is still in the nascent stage. Soon we hope to launch some demonstration projects in Tower funding
areas. Again, stay tuned.
- New tools to empower
students. For example, a work group
has mobilized around the notion of a learner profile for students. Think of it as GPS system for learning that
can get students and teachers on the same page.
- Support for Response
to Intervention (RTI) in Barnstable Public Schools. This is not a New Profit initiative per
se. But our work in the LD field has
helped us at Tower build a relationship with NCLD (National Center for Learning
Disabilities) that subsequently led to a grant in support of RTI implementation
in Barnstable, MA. NCLD is probably the
leading proponent of RTI, with a consulting team committed to helping school
districts "do" RTI with rigor and cultural buy-in. RTI supports frequent assessments (not state
testing, but comparatively quick and easy formative progress checks) that get
appropriate interventions to kids as soon as they demonstrate any lag, not when
they have fallen one or more grade levels behind.
- Understood.org. We've already blogged about this dynamic
resource for parents of kids with learning and attention issues. This is not a direct result of the New Profit
network, but certainly a product of the gestalt that Reimagine Learning has
Reimagine Learning is making progress on multiple
fronts. There is a palpable sense that
this unique alliance of philanthropy, thought leaders, and service providers is
poised to make a difference in an intractable social problem - maybe to a
degree that has rarely been seen before.
Photo by Eye to Eye National
Flickr: IMG_1402 / 6871547494
Creative Commons 2.0 Licensed