As we reflect on the important work that we have been able to do throughout the Administration, we wanted to highlight some of our key messages. This is part of a reflection series presented by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Ensuring educational access for all youth requires partnerships beyond the classroom. Educators have partnered with youth, families, faith-based and community organizations to create a culture of educational excellence and academic achievement. It is this intentionality of partnership that has created vibrant and cohesive school communities across the country. These communities provide a space and place necessary for academic achievement. The Department of Education Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships (ED Center) plays a key role in promoting student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.
Through Together for Tomorrow, promising practices for educational achievement are shared among schools, families, national service programs, and community-based organizations. These practices continue to propel improvement of our lowest-performing schools. This partnership is possible with the cooperation of the Corporation for National and Community Service and community partners such as, the Boys and Girls Club, United Way, and National Center for Families Learning.
In addition, the ED Center formed an Memorandum of Understanding with the National League of Cities Institute, to increase visibility, understanding and appreciation of the role that mayors can play in leading educational change in their communities by advancing strong early childhood opportunities, citywide high-quality afterschool programs, and strategies to improve postsecondary success rates.
Resources and tools provided through the Department of Education have helped faith-based and community organizations, educators and families address challenges like “bridging the word gap”; improving parent and family engagement and other items in the Education Matters bulletin.
As educators and communities begin implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act we know that continued partnerships, between schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based, will be crucial to fulfilling our shared vision of, in the words of President Obama, the “fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will through education.”
Reverend Brenda Girton-Mitchell, J.D. is the Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.