Strengthening Schools through Community: Learning Lessons from Tucson, Arizona - Digital Promise

Strengthening Schools through Community: Learning Lessons from Tucson, Arizona

August 30, 2018 | By

Across Digital Promise’s network of Education Innovation Clusters (EdClusters), many regions are doing exceptional work to enhance education innovation locally. Drawing on the strengths of their communities, EdClusters are developing new technologies, building strong networks, and improving education for teachers and students alike.

In Principles for Building a Learning Ecosystem, we’re highlighting the work of one of our veteran EdClusters in Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson EdCluster focuses on building connections between schools and professionals in the community, with the goal of bringing real-world learning into classrooms.

We partnered with CommunityShare, an organization working to strengthen and convene the Tucson education ecosystem, to learn more about the strategies they employ to connect the community around powerful learning. We highlight real stories of successful community-school partnerships between artists, scientists, engineers, and filmmakers. Our feature also outlines specific steps that educators take to ensure their community partnerships are effective and beneficial for everyone involved.

Throughout the piece, you’ll learn about the Tucson EdCluster’s strategies to:

  • Catalyze innovative learning projects through micro-grants and Educator Action Councils;
  • Connect members in all directions by uniting parents, professionals, and teachers to meet student learning needs;
  • Concentrate on common values of localized learning, educational equity, and real-world learning; and,
  • Cultivate membership by spreading the word about CommunityShare through dedicated advocates.

We also outline strategies and best practices that two other EdCluster affiliates—the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Remake Learning Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—have developed to build strong, thriving education ecosystems in their respective cities.

EdClusters have unique strengths: From the Tucson education ecosystem and CommunityShare, we learn that there is no one right way to build and sustain an education network. Regions have to rely on their strengths, and then build capacity where there are gaps in network support practices. Ideally, emerging EdClusters will find ways to tweak the strategies we’re sharing and come up with localized ideas of how to convene regional stakeholders around shared goals. The Tucson EdCluster’s strategies can also help established EdClusters improve their own approach and find new ways to scale their work.

Learn more from Tucson

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