St. Croix Foundation heads to Grantmakers for Education Conference in Houston
Published: October 14, 2013
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ST. CROIX - With an eye toward showing local education officials the possibilities when it comes to education reform, the St. Croix Foundation is taking a delegation this week to a conference known for showcasing educational innovation.
"This is really the leading edge work that is going on in America," said Roger Dewey, president of the St. Croix Foundation. "This the leading edge of education reform. What we get out of it is exposure to best practices."
The delegation - of approximately 13 at this point - will be going to the 2013 Annual Grantmakers for Education Conference in Houston from Tuesday to Saturday, according to Dewey and Deanna James, foundation chief operations officer.
The foundation sees it as an "incredible opportunity" to take "a broad cross-section of our stakeholder community to see best practices - and in an intimate way," James said.
Education reform is one of The St. Croix Foundation's priorities - and its No. 1 focus right now, James said. The foundation is a member of Grantmakers for Education.
The theme for this year's conference is "Philanthropy Rising to the Challenge. Leading a Nation More at Risk."
The Grantmakers for Education conference each year brings 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, according to a statement released by the St. Croix Foundation
The delegation the St. Croix Foundation will take includes representatives from the Department of Education, Workforce Investment Board, University of the Virgin Islands, Career and Technical Education Board, public and parochial school teachers, private sector employers and representatives from the Senate Education committee, according to the release.
This is the second year the foundation is taking a local delegation, James said.
Last year, the conference was in Brooklyn, N.Y., and featured site visits to the nationally-known Harlem Children's Zone, and to The New American Academy, along with a keynote address from Sal Khan, who is founder of Khan Academy, "all of which are changing the way the country views school and learning through non-traditional classrooms and broad based collaboration," the release said.
Dewey and James said they hope the trip is inspiring.
"What we really hope to happen is that stakeholders will really begin to be on the same page," James said, noting that the foundation would like to see local education leaders to begin work "to build a collective vision" on what educational reform should look like in the territory.
Those attending this year's conference will be able to go on site visits to see implementation of some proven educational reform models, including an innovative initiative at the University of Houston and the Cradle to College Children's Collaborative, according to the release.
Sessions on a variety of topics, from education policy to teacher leadership and college- and workforce-readiness, will also be available.
"We want as many people as possible to be exposed to this," Dewey said.
Some organizations sending representatives will be paying for them, while the Foundation will sponsor the trip for others, Dewey said. Sonya's Jewelry is underwriting part of the cost of this year's delegation, according to the release.
"The Foundation is deeply appreciative to Sonya's Jewelry," Dewey said in the release, adding that "these types of partnerships are necessary for our islands to prosper economically and socially."
James said the foundation hopes to speed up the implementation of proven, solid educational reform in the territory.
Just last week, a bill that would have established the framework for creating charter schools in the territory was held in committee for further work, after two days of testimony and widely conflicting opinions on the bill.
James said the issue did prompt some much-needed discussion on local educational reform,
"We think that there are a lot of great things happening. We think a lot of stakeholders are working hard. But the pace at which things are happening is not ensuring our students will be competitive," James said.
"At the very least, we believe the bill has generated some really meaningful conversation about reform that wasn't happening before."
Officials hope the trip to the conference will help keep that conversation going, she said.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.