On Sept. 18, Essex County Community Foundation partnered with the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to convene more than 50 philanthropists and local community leaders to hear how educators are collaborating to improve outcomes so that Essex County students – and our communities – can thrive.
The Essex County Learning Community (ECLC) is a cross-district professional development experience that builds the capacity of public school educators to meet the diverse learning assets and needs of all students. This includes students with learning disabilities, attention issues, exposure to trauma and those that are not served well under the current systems because of structural inequities and unconscious bias based on race, culture, income, language and gender.
Funded by the Tower Foundation, the ECLC was incubated in 2018 through the Reimagine Learning Fund, a multi-pronged effort of Boston-based venture philanthropy firm New Profit, based on researchers’ core insight that the silos of general education and special education, though well-intended, were not as efficient or effective as they could be.
The ECLC, now directed by Full Frame Communications, LLC in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Education, intends to fill gaps by offering professional development opportunities and facilitating collaboration among a cohort of local school districts.
At the Sept. 18 event, which took place at the Beverly Middle School, attendees learned how the first cohort of school districts – Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Haverhill, Rockport and Swampscott – has moved through the ECLC framework.
According to the ECLC, among these first-cohort districts, almost half of all students (46 %) are designated as “high needs,” meaning they are students with disabilities (21%), English language learners (6%) and/or economically disadvantaged (32%). These students face more learning challenges, and often worse outcomes, that their peers. A second cohort of school districts will launch in January 2020.
“The work with ECLC last year, and this summer, has been the best professional development of my career. ECLC’s mission is aligned with my own professional philosophy,” said Kate Twombly, reading coach and induction program coordinator for Beverly Public Schools. “It is empowering, energizing and inspiring to join with like-minded individuals and so many experts in ‘doing the work.’”
ECCF is proud to collaborate with funders such as the Tower Foundation to help amplify the good work that is being done to improve Essex County Communities.
“A strong public education system that meets the diverse needs of all students is so important to the sustainability and healthy growth of Essex County’s cities and towns,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis. “By partnering with the Tower Foundation, not only were we able to highlight how the ECLC is working towards that goal, but ECCF was also given the opportunity to keep our friends, fundholders and donors informed about opportunities to strengthen our local school districts through philanthropy.”