Education

Aiming For the Moon

The annual All In: Providence Education Moonshot summit on April 8 will promote learning and children's wellbeing

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The City of Providence will host the All In: Providence Education Moonshot Summit on Saturday, April 8. Mayor Jorge Elorza’s goal for the summit is to bring together students, families, teachers and community members in a citywide commitment to improving education. “I believe Providence can have the top urban education system in the country,” he says. “If we come together as an entire community to support our kids, I have no doubt we can achieve that goal. We invite every resident to join us and work to make even our most ambitious goals for our schools a reality.”

The summit, which is funded in part through a $200,000 grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation, builds upon the City’s work as part of the By All Means initiative at the Harvard Education Redesign Lab. In 2016, Providence was chosen as one of six cities across the United States to participate in this multi-year initiative aimed at promoting child wellbeing and education systems that help eliminate the achievement gap.

The other five cities chosen for the initiative were Oakland, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and Salem, Newton and Somerville, all in Massachusetts. As a part of this program, the mayors of these cities pledged to create “Children’s Cabinets,” bringing together superintendents, heads of social service agencies and other key community leaders. The objective is to brainstorm and implement strategies designed to close the achievement gap and to meet the needs of children throughout the community.

The cities were selected because they demonstrated a commitment to ensuring children’s success. James Ryan, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, described the By All Means initiative as “a bold, ambitious design project that I believe will have a profound effect on the way we think about and provide education in the coming century.”

The Providence Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC), formed in 2010, is a coalition of organizations, systems, residents and youth. Their mission is to bring together key partners, prioritize shared results and take collective action to improve the wellbeing of Providence’s young people, helping them to “thrive from cradle to career.” The organization’s 2016 priorities include social and emotional wellbeing, chronic absence and positive school climate.

In January 2017, Mayor Elorza announced that he would increase spending on education. “The city’s contribution to our schools has not increased in six years but that is something that will change this year,” he wrote in his proposed budget. This summit emphasizes the mayor’s commitment to education and to providing a range of educational experiences for children from birth through graduation.

Providence School Board President Nicholas J. Hemond explains that this summit comes at a critical time, as the district’s strategic plan is being finalized. “Bringing together people who care deeply about education, our schools and our students will offer new ideas and resources to help PPSD improve student achievement, and to prepare all students for college and career.”
Superintendent of Providence Public Schools Chris Maher agrees that broad support and involvement is critical. “The All In Summit will allow the district not only to highlight our best practices, but also to showcase those partnerships whose involvement has helped the district gain its current momentum. The mayor’s forum will also create a meaningful feedback loop among families, community-based organizations and local businesses, to make sure that citywide educational efforts are aligned with the needs of those who live and work in Providence.” For more information and to get involved with the All In: Providence Education Moonshot Summit, visit the mayor’s webpage at ProvidenceRI.com/Mayor.

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