More than Money Philanthropy as a driver of GLR community efforts to help more low-income children and families succeed in the early grades was a big topic at the 2017 GLR Funder Huddle.

During a plenary session in Denver, philanthropic leaders  said the core elements of the approach that’s emerged across many of the 450 state and local funders supporting Campaign communities includes:

  • Putting a stake in the ground around third-grade reading and pursuing that result across borders between early years/early grades, education and health
  • Co-owning strategies and accountability for results with grantees, partners and other funders
  • Augmenting dollar investments with backbone support, technical assistance and strategic advice
  • Leveraging grants with new fiscal tools, data and public funding
  • Stewarding the vision and commitment during transitions
  • Joining other funders in coalitions to advance and accelerate progress

GLR Support Center Director Ron Fairchild said many of those elements were front and center when he visited Nashville last month for a series of forums with local leaders on on the city’s recently developed Blueprint for Early Childhood Success.

Developed by the Nashville Literacy Collaborative, spearheaded by local government, the Nashville Public Library, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the  Nashville Public Education Foundation during 2017 with input from more than 200 community, civic and philanthropic leaders, the Blueprint is the city’s strategy to double the number of third graders reading on grade level by 2025.

“The Blueprint is one of the most comprehensive and well thought out action plans for 3rd grade level reading success that we’ve seen,” Fairchild said. “It has strong support from every sector of the community, is rooted in best practice and good data, and puts a process in place to report annually on progress toward the 2025 goal. The challenge now is to make the pivot from planning to implementation.”

The Blueprint includes a strategy launched by Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Shawn Joseph that pilots enhanced literacy supports in six elementary schools, as well as plan to scale up what works from those schools across the district. In addition, it spells out enhanced data sharing and parent support programs to combat chronic absence and special hours for public libraries to curb summer learning loss.

The Scarlett Family Foundation and other local funders have been key to building awareness of and support for the Blueprint, in addition to funding its development.

Philanthropies that fund education initiatives in the city have begun to meet informally to make sure their efforts are aligned with Blueprint Strategies. They also are supporting the Collective Impact Catalyst at Nashville’s Center for Non-Profit Management, which will help put Blueprint recommendations into action.

“The Blueprint shows how we’re coming together in Nashville around the idea that philanthropy means more than funding or just funding one effort,” said Tara Scarlett, president and CEO of the Scarlett Family Foundation.

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