Public-Private Partnerships Leveraging Resources for Student Success

Duncan speaks with the PSPP panel.Building communities of collaboration on behalf of America’s most vulnerable children is the reason that Secretary Duncan praised public-private school partnerships at the recent Annual Private School Leadership Conference, hosted by ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE).

Duncan noted that independent private schools across America are partnering with public schools and other community organizations to address the academic and social needs of some of our nation’s most vulnerable children. One such example is the Private Schools with Public Purpose consortium, which encourages America’s independent and parochial schools to coordinate and leverage their resources, expertise, and experience with those of the public schools to benefit public school students and teachers.

During ONPE’s recent conference, a panel of PSPP leaders joined the Secretary and described partnerships across the country that aim to level the educational playing field for America’s young people. The panel highlighted the Middle Grades Partnership in Baltimore, where area private schools collaborate with public schools and other community organizations to create support programs for low-income middle school students and professional development for public and private school teachers.

Duncan meets with PSPP Panelists

(from left to right) Jacqueline Smethurst, Co-founder, Wingspan Partnerships; Al Adams, Former Headmaster, Lick-Wilmerding High School; Secretary Duncan; Jim Scott, President, Punahou School; and Roger Weaver, President and Senior Consultant, The Weaver Group and President, The Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation.

Another successful example of private-public school collaboration is Horizons National, which is a national network of partnerships between private and public schools that provides multiyear summer enrichment programs for low-income students. In other private-public school collaborations, private school associations, such as the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, offer coaching, mentoring, and consulting services to public charter schools.

Public-private partnerships such as Private Schools with Public Purpose are a “collective brain trust,” Secretary Duncan told ONPE conference attendees, with such partnerships offering a “huge potential” to improve achievement for high-need students. He encouraged private schools to dedicate resources to assist underperforming schools in high-poverty areas to produce results and ensure all children receive a high-quality education.

To learn more about public and private school partnerships, visit:

Contact the ONPE, ED’s liaison office to the non-public school community, at for additional information.