As a local education fund, the Philadelphia Education Fund is dedicated to building partnerships with organizations, including school districts, schools, businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, and community stakeholders with the goal of improving student achievement for all Philadelphia public school students. We work closely with the School District of Philadelphia and our reach is increasingly regional in scope. We take great pride in our role as a convener of Philadelphia's civic leaders as a key strategy to fulfill our mission, to improve the quality of public education in the region.
We advance our ability to make a difference through the support and guidance of many partners and stakeholders. Both local and national, our strategic partners have empowered and inspired us to develop innovative programs and practices that are positively impacting Philadelphia's public education system.
Some of our many strategic partnerships include:
philadelphia Postsecondary Success Program
The Public Education Network (PEN) selected us to be one of three cities across the country to launch the Philadelphia Postsecondary Success Program (formerly Citi Postsecondary Success Program). The program is made possible by the significant multi-year funding from the Citi Foundation and through technical assistance from the Public Education Network, the Academy of for Educational Development, and OMG Center for Collaborative Learning. Through this network, we will develop a program in Philadelphia with five overarching goals, all of which align with our mission and strategic plan.
In 2005, the Philadelphia Education Fund embarked on a body of research with Johns Hopkins University to study dropout trends in Philadelphia. The research revealed that struggling middle grades students send powerful distress signals as early as 6th grade. The study isolated four Early Warning Indicators: attending school less than 80% of the time; a failing grade in math; a failing grade in English; and a poor behavioral grade. Middle grades students who exhibit any one of the Early Warning Indicators have between a 10% and 20% chance of high school graduation. In 2006, the Ed Fund and Johns Hopkins developed a set of interventions for students who demonstrate Early Warning Indicators and developed a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and the William Penn Foundation to put this research into practice. Over the years, the partnership grew to include City Year and Communities In Schools. Together, we have developed a system to provide interventions in the lives of at-risk students that is proving effective for students. We have witnessed the following at one of our schools:
In Attendance, 52% of the students identified as off-track at the beginning of the year improved.
In Math, 83% of the students identified as off-track at the beginning of the year improved.
In Literacy, 80% of the students identified as off-track at the beginning of the year improved.
In Behavior, 45% of the students identified as off-track at the beginning of the year improved.
Now, this work is being replicated in six other urban school districts across the country, under the name Diplomas Now, with the Ed Fund serving as the national technical assistance partner.
In 2007, the Philadelphia Education Fund became a strategic partner of Graduate! Philadelphia, whose mission is steeped in the response to the shortage of adults with college degrees in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition
In 2005, in response to the release of several national reports on the state of math and science instruction in the United States, the Philadelphia Education Fund began to convene civic leaders to discuss this urgent issue. As a result of the great outpouring of support from the community, the Ed Fund launched the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition — a partnership of businesses, nonprofit organizations, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and others. The Coalition has grown to include more than 45 partnering organizations and over 100 individual participants all of which log countless hours of volunteer time to address this urgent need on a local level.
Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program
In 2008, the Philadelphia Education Fund was invited to join the national organization Urban Teacher Residency United (UTRU) and, as a member, to launch a teacher residency program in Philadelphia. The Ed Fund convened local partners University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE), School District of Philadelphia (SDP), and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT). The partnership is receiving technical assistance from UTRU to launch Philadelphia Teacher Residency, which focuses on recruiting and retooling STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) professionals to become math and science teachers in the Philadelphia public schools. UTRU teacher residency programs have had wonderful success, averaging a 90–95% teacher retention rate.
ArtsRising is a new initiative born out of the concern of civic leaders in Philadelphia, the funding community, and the School District of Philadelphia to directly address the lack of equity in arts programming provided to our city's youth. After a yearlong process that included several committees representing arts and funding organizations in the city, the Ed Fund, along with partners including Fleisher Art Memorial and Public Citizens for Children and Youth, were chosen to lead the Initiative. The focus of ArtsRising is to enhance arts learning opportunities for ALL children, both in school and out of school, while simultaneously building a community-wide groundswell through advocacy and communications. The initiative begins in Philadelphia, and over the following ten years will scale to serve the entire region.