Chattanooga and Hamilton County are partnering with The Harvard Graduate School of Education's Education Redesign Lab to continue efforts spearheaded by Chattanooga 2.0 to transform education and outcomes for children and the community.
Last week, the lab announced that Chattanooga had joined the By All Means consortium, along with six other communities across the country — Louisville, Kentucky; Oakland, California; Providence, Rhode Island; Salem and Somerville, Massachusetts and the Partnership for Resilience in Illinois — that are working to bring together government and civic leaders to close achievement and opportunity gaps.
"We are thrilled to welcome Chattanooga-Hamilton County to the By All Means consortium. We were impressed by their efforts to support children and families in their community, and look forward to working together and learning from one another," said Paul Reville, former education secretary of Massachusetts and founder of the Education Redesign Lab, which was launched in 2015. "Through innovation, partnership, and community collaboration we believe we can provide all our children the opportunity to succeed in education and life."
Chattanooga launched its own collaborative to bring together leaders from across industries — businesses, community organizations, nonprofits and government officials — to combat education and workforce challenges in 2016, with the founding of Chattanooga 2.0.
"Being selected to join the By All Means consortium is an honor and recognizes our hard work and commitment through Chattanooga 2.0 to the children of our community," United Way of Greater Chattanoga president and CEO Lesley Scearce said in a statement. "The partnership with Harvard and the Education Redesign Lab is an important opportunity to learn from and with other communities so we can accelerate our work."
Led by executive director Jared Bigham and housed by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the coalition has been a major player in several initiatives including a pilot summer pre-kindergarten program called Camp K, the launch of Hamilton County Schools' Future Ready Institutes, the creation of Chattanooga Basics and even a three-year plan to revamp special education across the county's schools.
"BAM is an exciting opportunity to accelerate our current work through the support of the Harvard Education Redesign Lab, while also developing new strategies informed by successful work in the other network communities," Bigham said.
In its first phase, from 2016 to 2018, the By All Means consortium worked with communities to establish children's cabinets, or groups similar to Chattanooga 2.0, through which leaders could collaborate and the work could be housed.
Bridget Rodriguez, associate director of programs and operations for the lab, said Chattanooga was a natural fit for the consortium because it had already established 2.0 and work had already begun.
"The big goal of BAM is to work in partnership with communities both to help local groups and to help us learn how through cross-sector collaboration we can support better education for kids," Rodriguez said. "A big principal for our field work partnerships is that while we are providing support and this very ambitious vision, we take the lead from communities what that will mean locally."
In the next phase, BAM 2.0, the lab wants to help communities develop systems to track youth and the resources they have access to or are using across sectors. In-house consultants will help partner communities such as Chattanooga identify sources of funding and best practices for programs the community hopes to launch.
One of the lab's consultants is a familiar face — Keri Randolph, the former director of Innovation for Hamilton County Schools. Randolph now is a doctoral candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Doctorate of Education Leadership program.
The consortium also will bring together leaders from various communities for twice-annual meetings to facilitate networking and collaboration.
Notably, Chattanooga 2.0 has previously looked to other cities' success, such as modeling Camp K off of Louisville's highly successful kindergarten readiness program.
"We see this as a great chance to learn from other communities and accelerate the work we have already been doing," said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger in a statement. "We know that the investments we make in education pay dividends for our county long term, and in particular this is an important opportunity to support students in after-school and summer programs. I'm excited this is a priority for By All Means 2.0."