On Education, Strive Partnership Offers Useful Template

Elevated joblessness rips at the American soul while Washington devotes itself to raising obscene amounts of campaign cash. The odds that a meaningful job creation initiative will emerge from the capital before November are roughly equivalent to those of Dominique Strauss-Kahn becoming pope.

But while the center of national power may be a void, creative people in myriad localities are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, forging innovative solutions to vexing problems tearing at their communities. In the Cincinnati area, an entity known as the Strive Partnership -- a fusion of about 300 local, non-profit, social service agencies, foundations, school districts, universities and private businesses -- has organized to prepare area young people with the skills needed to embark on successful careers.

Since coming into existence six years ago, the partnership already has produced dividends -- higher retention rates at participating universities and improved reading levels at local schools.

Young people need jobs, and area businesses need capable workers. Schools need effective strategies to increase their graduation rates. Social service agencies traditionally pursue distinct areas of focus, from boosting preventative health care to stemming gang violence. But before the Strive Partnership, all of these actors operated independently, with little coordination and no central database to highlight the problems that needed tackling most urgently.

"It was spray and pray, investing in a lot of stuff and hoping it works," says Jeff Edmonson, the partnership's former executive director, and now managing director of the Strive Network, a new entity exporting the Cincinnati model to other communities, including Boston, Houston and Seattle. "Investments were falling into a black hole in terms of educational outcomes. You would address third-grade reading and then your high school graduation rates would go down."

Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-s-goodman/strive-partnership_b_1582573.html


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