The St. Croix Foundation is currently coordinating a small delegation of local education stakeholdersto attend the 2012 Annual Grant-makers for Education (GFE) Conference entitled, “Rethink, Reframe, Redesign Education” in New York City, Oct. 23-26.
Considered by many to be one of the most dynamic and informative forums on transformational educational models, GFE is a “membership organization for private and public philanthropies that support improved educational outcomes for students.” Founded in 1995, GFE seeks to “promote dialogue, make inquiry and learn to strengthen practice within the field of education philanthropy.” Each year, their annual conference convenes representatives from the largest educational funders in the country including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Nellie Mae, Cleveland and Annie E. Casey Foundations to share experiences, to assess which reform models are working (and which ones aren’t) and to refine strategies.
As a GFE member for the past four years, St. Croix Foundation made the decision to coordinate a Virgin Islands delegation to the conference this year with the express goal of building capacity and consensus among local stakeholders around which reform models are right for the community.
Recognizing the critical nature of the challenges before the territory today, the foundation’s ultimate goal is to hasten the pace of education reform in order to ensure that the V.I. is adequately preparing youth to navigate through the difficult economic conditions before them — both locally and globally.
Increasingly inspired by the body of work that is presented each year at the annual conference, the foundation hopes this year’s conference will expose local stakeholders to some bold educational strategies that are transforming public schools throughout the country.
With many of GFE’s members currently underwriting the lion’s share of funding costs for some of the most innovative and successful school reform models today, the featured sessions and site visits are always a major highlight of the conference each year. This year’s conference is expected to be particularly exciting because it’s being held in New York City and will feature site visits to several bold educational models, including the nationally renowned Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). Recognized by The New York Times as “one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time,” HCZ is a comprehensive system of programs over a 100 blocks radius in Central Harlem that aims to keep children on track from the cradle to college and on to the job market.
Another site visit that will be offered at the GFE conference is the New American Academy (NAA), which was created in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers, the New York Department of Education and The Harvard Graduate School of Education. NAA represents a visionary approach to education wherein ‘teachers work in collaborative teams of four to lead a typical classroom of 60 students in small, differentiated groups. The academy currently serves students in kindergarten and first grade.’
While only a handful of slots have been allotted for the St. Croix Foundation’s delegation, invitations have already been extended to members of the Board of Education, the Department of Education, the CTEC Board and the St. Croix Federation of Teachers as well as several other key education stakeholders.
According to Deanna James, CEO of the foundation, “we are deeply encouraged by the response we’ve received thus far from stakeholders as most of the slots for our very small delegation have already been filled.” James went on to state that “the foundation truly believes that the GFE conference has the potential to bridge philosophical and political divides that have prevented our community from making real headway in our attempts to improve our educational system.”
Invited guests will be responsible for covering their conference costs, and because the conference is a “members only” industry event, guests will have to be registered through the foundation’s membership account.
For more information on the GFE Conference or on the foundation’s educational programming, call the St. Croix Foundation at 773-9898.