Thursday, June 21, 2012

Department of Education's Place-Based Strategy

Reposted from the "Stabilize" blog of the NeighborWorks America Stable Communities program.
This progress report, "Impact in Place: A Progress Report on the Department of Education's Place-Based Strategy," presents outcomes to date on efforts at a case study of San Francisco on efforts by the Department of Education to strengthen the role of schools in their communities. According to the report, "Communities that face underperforming schools, rundown housing, neighborhood violence, and poor health know that these are interconnected challenges and that they perpetuate each other....In the education world, the focus on place is particularly important, as it gives the Department a mechanism to see how its investments focused on 'in-school' levers of change interact with 'out of school' conditions for learning and the interventions meant to address them."
Elements of the theory of action include:
  • Engage the Community Through Asset Mapping and a Needs Assessment
  • Focus on Clear Results and Develop Shared Data Tools
  • Integrate Programs From Cradle to Career
  • Build Core Capacities Within Organizations and Communities
  • Break Down Silos
  • Capture and Share Learning
San Francisco put these elements into action to refocus citywide strategies into place-based ones, using a report from its Human Services Agency that indicated that many families accessed multiple services: mental health, juvenile justice, and foster care. It retargeted some of the $100 million flowing into two zip code areas to focus on 2,600 families with 5,800 children.
Beyond Housing photo of kids in the classroom - "DREAM" written on wall
The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program supports the development and expansion of innovative practices that can serve as models for improving student and school outcomes. The program also identifies and documents best practices that can be shared and taken to scale based on demonstrated success. As part of the Obama Administration's Open Data Initiative, a large focus of the place-based focus has been on improving data reporting and use for effective programming.

Have any of these efforts trickled down to the places you work?