Some groups lead with a megaphone. Others by rolling up their sleeves.
As the arduous work of a COVID-19-infused Session begins, the Legislature is looking for ways to support education without breaking the already-squeezed budget.
There’s one organization, just celebrating its second anniversary, that’s making a quiet impact to drive progress for our schools and achievement for all students — without the Legislature having to budget a penny for it.
Impact Florida, headed by veteran educator Mandy Clark, is cultivating real, meaningful change by sharing best practices at the district level.
The organization uses a “Districts for Impact” initiative to identify what’s working in one school district and sharing it with other districts around the state, through something called learning cadres.
This week, they launched their fifth learning cadre, where four counties — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Osceola and Sarasota — will focus on strengthening professional learning practices.
Teams of key leaders from each district will gain support in how to better understand the complexity of student identities so they can be more intentional in creating equity and access for all students.
So far, Impact Florida’s cadres have involved 18 school districts that teach over half the states’ public-school students.
In addition to four more cadres, the organization is still hoping to hold its annual education summit later this year, bringing together leaders and education organizations across the state.
“By placing student success at the forefront, Impact Florida, Helios Education Foundation and the school districts engaged in this work will transform opportunity for thousands of Florida’s K-12 students,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “Closing achievement gaps and ensuring an equitable education system is core to ensuring that all students — particularly first-generation, minority, and underrepresented students — are successful all along the education continuum.”/
The Helios Education Foundation is one group supporting the new cadre, along with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.
What makes this approach especially interesting is how it builds on learnings from Impact Florida’s High-Quality Instructional Materials cadre, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TNTP, a national education nonprofit organization, is also partnering with Impact Florida in providing support to participating districts.