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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 was launched more than 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 shown demonstrable 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 had three components:

  • Community Learning
  • Direct Investment
  • Advocacy & Public Policy

Over the course of ten years, we 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 have soared. As a capstone to our efforts, we launched a multi-donor advised fund to support Duval County public school teachers and leaders. They invested more than $37 million in our local public schools, and their support was able to leverage an additional $57 million in additional grant support. Today, there is a permanent field of interest endowment at The Community Foundation to support public education reform. 

 

 

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Jacksonville, FL 32202
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