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Partnering with New Profit (cont.) [Part 4 of 4]

2015-February 18
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 districts.
  • 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.
  •  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 tapped into.

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

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