Public Education Reform
Tackling the problem of a stubborn student achievement gap in local schools is emblematic of how community foundations can address significant community issues in a bold way. Our Quality Education for All (QEA) initiative began nearly 10 years ago, and has brought the community together around this critical issue. Most importantly, we have focused research and directed substantial private investment toward improving student outcomes, and those efforts have already begun to show progress.
In 2005, the staff and Board of Trustees of The Community Foundation put a stake in the ground, proclaiming that the Duval County schools needed systemic change—change that must come from within the school system and from the community at large. Capitalizing on our role as convener, catalyst and funder, we committed to engaging the community, using data-driven research, and investing $2 million to jumpstart an end to the achievement gap. Our work has three components:
- Community Learning
- Direct Investment
- Advocacy & Public Policy
Nearly ten years later, we have engaged thousands of citizens, sponsored vital outside research to spotlight where our efforts should be focused, and created the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, an independent non-profit with a mandate to use research to mobilize the community and advocate for quality education. Our efforts created Learning to Finish—a national drop-out prevention collaborative—and our graduation rates are rising. As a capstone to our efforts, and in partnership with a small group of deeply committed donors, we launched a—$50 million QEA Fund to create and nurture great Duval County public school teachers and leaders. They already have more than $37 million earmarked for that effort.
Bold thinking, backed by a commitment to ask hard questions now and a willingness to invest in the future — these are the hallmarks of a community foundation and why your gift, combined with others, can be so meaningful.
"We’re on the verge of something
truly exciting with the
Quality Education for All Fund."
- Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools -