September is Back to School Month!
Building a strong cradle-to-career educational pipeline was one of the major recommendations of the Mayor's Anti-Poverty Commission.
Achieving dramatic improvements in educational and life outcomes for our young people is a shared goal of the City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools--as well as numerous community partners.
Richmond Public Schools has responsibility for curriculum and policy and for articulating strategic goals for improvement. But the broader community has a crucial responsibility as well--in particular, to recognize and redress the specific challenges associated with educating and supporting children and families in poverty.
That's why the Maggie L. Walker Initiative has directed attention to key areas that impact student and family outcomes in areas that are not the sole responsibility of the school system. These
- Better preparing children and families for Kindergarten (school readiness)
- Providing focused support systems for children in poverty
- Providing a stronger menu of high-quality out-of-school time activities, particularly for adolescents
- Developing strategies to engage parents and to connect parents to economic and continuing education opportunities
- Developing a strong link between high school and college and career
As we begin the 2015-16 academic year, it's significant to note that the basic elements of this support system are coming together to help form a strong web of support for Richmond students. Through the Maggie L. Walker Initiative, in FY 2016
the City will invest nearly $1.6 million-about 40% of the total community wealth building budget into initiatives at the intersection of education and poverty.
Each of these initiatives are partnerships between the City, Richmond Public Schools, and often third-party organizations and funders. While we do expect some tangible short-term results, these are strategies that will take time and continued support to fully blossom and grow to the full scale needed to make a maximum impact.
Equally important, the City's strategy is intent on focusing not just on children, but children within a family context. Providing needed support to children in living in poverty is good; helping a child's parents escape poverty through expanded access to employment and related supports is even better. Parent engagement must be a critical component of this work, and developing effective strategies to reach parents and help address both their needs and the needs of their children is an urgent requirement.
The bottom line is our children need the support of the entire community to reach their fullest potential. This issue of the newsletter highlights the progress we are making to build the needed community structure of support to help combat and overcome the debilitating impacts of poverty. We wish all Richmond schools, teachers and students the best possible 2015-16 -- and we challenge all community members to join in the effort of supporting the aspirations and dreams of our young people.