National education nonprofit StriveTogether will award $1 million over three years to a coalition of regional education organizations working to advance changes in state policy and use data to improve student outcomes.
The Wisconsin Partnership, which includes Milwaukee Succeeds, Higher Expectations for Racine County, Achieve Brown County and Building our Future in Kenosha County, will receive $350,000 annually for the next three years. It’s part of StriveTogether’s national $20 million initiative aimed at shifting public policy and helping students progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and finding a job.
Milwaukee Succeeds, an education initiative that is embedded at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, will lead the coalition’s effort to promote policy improvements related to early childhood education, with a focus on increasing grassroots participation in the policy process.
“It’s not just one advocacy campaign but it’s making sure each of our four respective communities have infrastructure in place to support policy improvements over the long term,” said Dave Celeta, deputy director of Milwaukee Succeeds. “The focus is on community mobilization to make sure parents, families and community members are actively involved in the policy process and their voices are at the table.”
Higher Expectations for Racine County will spearhead another effort aimed at improving access to public data related to early childhood education, K-12 education and the state's workforce.
“We’re going to be working on improving access and integration of public data across multiple systems so there is more integration and better access, so we know what’s really working for kids,” Celeta said. “We want to ensure that we are grounding policy decisions in what actually has a positive impact on students.”
The Wisconsin Partnership is one of seven policy-focused projects nationally to be awarded grants from StriveTogether.
Celeta said the funding will provide the resources needed to make systemic change.
“We can pull partners together to identify best practices and use philanthropic dollars to support some innovation and use data to find out what's working for kids,” he said. “But this, for us, has the potential for a breakthrough in terms of the results we can drive. At the end of the day, we can’t bring effective practices and improved outcomes to every child without making changes to policy at multiple levels. We’re incredibly excited about this work because it’s providing us a clear path to scale what could be better outcomes.”