Category Archives: Education

Transformational Organizations: The M.A. Rooney Foundation

 

Teacher and StudentThe M.A. Rooney Foundation is transforming the lives of children and having a ripple effect in Indiana. The Foundation’s mission is to ensure that ALL kids are reading at grade level. Founded in 1969 by the owners of Golden Rule Insurance Company in Indianapolis, today the M. A. Rooney Foundation concentrates its efforts and resources on helping educational and youth professionals improve literacy and educational excellence. The Rooney Foundation operates under the spirit of the old saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

At Transform Consulting Group, we often say that the Rooney Foundation is one of Indiana’s best kept secrets… until now! While they might be most known for their work with school districts and schools, they have also expanded their FREE resources to community based organizations that work with schools and have a mission to improve academic achievement for students. The Rooney Foundation provides three key services:

  1. Data Management – assists schools by collecting, warehousing and reporting on current and historical student demographic and achievement data. They create informative and detailed student data reports that are customized to specific outcomes and shared with school staff (at all levels) and community partners.
  2. Strategic Planning – provides collaborative planning processes that include success plan development, meaningful and timely classroom and district data reports, and analysis structures that deliver results.
  3. Professional Development – supports educational professionals in learning and implementing the best practices that lead to increased student achievement and success. They work closely with staff and leaders to review the data collected, develop an action plan for improvement and implement it.

Funders and policy makers are increasingly becoming more focused on results and outcomes for schools and community organizations that work with students. Gaining access to real-time, objective data is critical for schools and organizations to know that what that they are doing is making a difference and improving student achievement.

Through our evaluation consulting services, Transform Consulting Group has been working closely with the Rooney Foundation to connect community-based organizations with student achievement data. Equipped by a team of seasoned educational professionals and statisticians (from the insurance side), the Rooney Foundation is a dynamic asset in Indiana. Transform Consulting Group thanks the Rooney Foundation for making a significant difference in the lives of Hoosier children! The Rooney Foundation is a great example of an organization that is transforming lives and making a ripple effect in our schools, community based organizations and neighborhoods. Interested in how your organization can make a similar successful impact? Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a consultation!

 

 

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Transformational Organizations: Felege Hiywot Center

 

Felege Hiywot LogoTransform Consulting Group wants to highlight the impact that the Felege Hiywot Center (FHC) is having on the lives of urban youth and creating a ripple effect in Indianapolis. FHC serves Indianapolis students, second generation Ethiopians in Indianapolis, and orphans in Ethiopia.  FHC teaches gardening and environmental preservation, embracing Ethiopian heritage, and community service.

Founder and Executive Director, Aster Bekele, is a native Ethiopian who has lived as a U.S. citizen in Indianapolis for more than three decades. A retired Eli Lilly scientist, Bekele got the idea to teach and mentor children about math and science through creating a garden center in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.

By participating in summer, after-school and in-school programs, students develop:

  • Gardening skills
  • Awareness of nature and nutritious food
  • Commitment to environmental preservation
  • Ability to make nutritious food choices
  • Entrepreneurial skills to sell the bounty of their crops
  • Recycling and composting skills

FHC’s agricultural and environmental training also incorporates language arts, math, science, and social studies lessons. Each child has the opportunity to become an active community servant, a helpful team player and a responsible family member. FHC’s afterschool program reduces intergenerational stress by helping second-generation Ethiopian youth understand their heritage, history, and culture. Participants learn to share with each other and with others in the community while developing leadership skills. FHC also facilitates one-on-one financial supports between American families and individual Ethiopian orphans. Lastly, because of the location of FHC, they are creating access to nutritious foods in a neighborhood that is considered a “food desert”.

Transform Consulting Group applauds FHC’s use of the natural environment to teach, its efforts to increase cultural identity and emphasis on community service. To find out more about the Felege Hiywot Center’s programs, click here. Interested in how your organization can make a similar successful impact? Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a consultation!

 

 

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48 Success Indicators in Early Education

 

Markers that Matter Cover PageTransform Consulting Group is always looking for useful frameworks for organizations to measure success. A new report developed by FSG with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, “Markers that Matter: Success Indicators in Early Learning and Education,” offers 48 early childhood indicators that reflect the healthy development of young children. The report also highlights 10 emerging themes, areas that are not sufficiently addressed by existing indicators and where further inquiry is needed. These indicators are categorized into groupings affecting the child, family, education and care settings and community.

The report also discusses the value of these indicators’ potential to forge, sustain, and strengthen connections among community actors. The authors highlight two examples of how communities have used early childhood indicators in collaborative approaches that focus on supporting the healthy development of all children. Click here for the full report.

Transform Consulting Group is excited about how we can help organizations across Indiana use research-based outcomes and indicators to support actions that address the needs of our community! Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a free consultation to assess your organization’s outcomes and indicators!

 

 

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New Race to the Top Grant Opportunity for Schools and Community Organizations

 

racetotthetop-logo-small

The U.S. Department of Education is accepting applications for its $120 million Race to the Top district level grant competition, which will support bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness. The grants are open only to schools (or a consortium of schools) to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students; however, there is a competitive preference priority for applicants that propose to extend their reforms beyond the classroom and partner with public or private entities in order to address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.

The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from applicants across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural as well as those already in a State with a Race to the Top grant and districts that are not. These 4-year awards will range from $4 million to $30 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan.  Click here for more information.

Interested districts need to submit their intent to apply by August 23, 2013, and applications are due October 3, 2013. Does your organization need help with a grant application or are you looking for ideas for new community partnerships? Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a consultation!

 

 

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Intervention is Key to Third Grade Literacy

 

Young ReaderTransform Consulting Group is sharing updated research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that underscores the urgency of ensuring that children develop proficient reading skills by the end of third grade, especially for those living in poverty. The Early Warning Confirmed report further supports the link between reading deficiencies and broader social consequences, including how living in poor households and high-poverty neighborhoods contribute to racial disparities in literacy skills in America and how low achievement in reading impacts an individual’s future earning potential. Third-grade reading proficiency is crucial to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

The report also identifies the key factors in reaching the goal of third grade literacy, many of which can be successfully addressed by local organizations serving children, families and communities, as well as by traditional schools. Improvements in educational outcomes produced a long-term return to society of $8.24 for every dollar invested during the first four to six years of school, including prekindergarten. These key factors in successful outcomes include:

  • school readiness
  • regular attendance at school
  • summer learning opportunities
  • healthy, unstressed families
  • high-quality teaching in schools, homes and communities

Indiana, like many other states, requires that if a child cannot pass the reading portion of ISTEP+ standardized test in the third grade, that child must be retained unless an exemption applies.

However, the Early Warning report indicates that neither passive social promotion nor mandatory retention is a good policy strategy. Instead, individualized intervention programs for children who are at risk of being retained can substantially increase their academic achievement.

Transform Consulting Group can provide research like this that validates a best practices approach for the specific needs of an organization. Most recently, Transform Consulting Group utilized this information to help United Way of Central Indiana expand and enhance its readUP literacy-tutoring program through securing a $260,000 AmeriCorps grant. Contact Transform Consulting Group today to learn how we can help your organization frame both problems and solutions in a data-rich, evidence-based context.

 

 

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Poor Planning Skills Contribute to Student Achievement Gap

 

To Do ListTransform Consulting Group works with our clients to build strategy that is current with industry trends and the latest research. Recent research from Cornell University indicates that efforts to enhance the academic performance of low-income children need to consider multiple aspects of their development, including the ability to plan in a goal-oriented manner. The study is published in the July/August issue of Child Development. Children from low-income families tend to do worse at school than their financially better-off peers. Poor planning skills, which can emerge as early as kindergarten and continue through high school, are one reason for the income-achievement gap. Researchers believe the group of skills called executive function, which includes planning skills, can be strengthened through interventions. Such interventions are being developed and tested for children as young as the preschool years.

The study found that the children’s performance in fifth grade could be explained, in part, by how they did on the third-grade planning task, even when taking IQ into consideration.

Using income as well as math and reading scores, the study also found that the lower the household income during infancy, the worse the children’s performance on reading and math in fifth grade – replicating the well-known gap between income and achievement.

Transform Consulting Group can conduct research on your industry to inform the planning process with the current trends and best practices such as these. Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a consultation!

 

 

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New Grant Opportunity from Department of Education

 

Transform Consulting Group is highlighting a new grant opportunity from the U.S. Department of Education. The successful applicant will enter into a cooperative agreement Kids Heading to Schoolto establish and operate a National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support (PBIS). The Center will assist schools in developing a framework that will help students remain engaged in instruction and improve academic outcomes for students with and without disabilities. A PBIS framework helps to improve behavioral and academic outcomes by improving school climate, preventing problem behavior, increasing learning time, promoting positive social skills, and delivering effective behavioral interventions and supports. The grant is open to public agencies, schools, charters and nonprofits, and will provide $1.65 million in funding for four years. Applications are due August 19, 2013. For more information, click here.

Need help with a grant application? Transform Consulting Group is available to support your efforts at all levels to strategize, develop, edit and submit successful grant proposals. Contact Transform Consulting Group today for a consultation!

 

 

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PROMISE Grants Supporting Disabled Children

 

Smiling BoyThe U.S. Department of Education is accepting applications for a new competitive grant program, Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE). The goal of PROMISE is to improve the education and career outcomes of low income children with disabilities ages 14-16 who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).   PROMISE is open to all 50 States and the District of Columbia, and states may apply together as a consortium. The Department intends to fund three to six projects between $4.5 million to $10 million a year for 5 years.

The deadline for submitting completed applications is August 19, 2013. In order to assist with the application process, the Department will host webinars for applicants to review the application and ask questions on May 30, 2013 and June 4, 2013.

Need help with funding opportunities like this grant? Transform Consulting Group helped to increase the funding of the Indiana Afterschool Network by 200% and diversify their sources of funding over several multi-year funding sources. Contact us today for a consultation!


 

 

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5 Lessons Learned about Student Success

Union City, New Jersey, an urban city just across the Hudson from Manhattan, has done the unthinkable.  They went from having one of the worst school districts in the state to competing with the best.

What was their success? Professor David L. Kirp reveals in Improbable Scholars how a poor urban school district has 90 percent of its students (majority are Latino immigrants) graduate from high school, which is 10 percent more than the nationwide average, and 75 percent of them enroll in college. He not only chronicles their success but also includes recommendations for implementation in other communities whether you are urban, suburban or rural.

5 Lessons Learned:

  1. Create and Follow a Long-Term Plan: The school district committed to a long-term strategy for success.  The results stated above did not occur within a year or even five years but instead ten years.
  2. Utilize Research-Based Strategies: A key element of their strategy was an investment in universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds.  There is significant research showing the benefits of early education.
  3. Invest in Your Talent – They provide hands-on help for teachers, create a supportive learning community and have great school leaders.
  4. Integrate New Strategies – When beneficial new strategies have emerged, like using sophisticated data-crunching to generate pinpoint assessments to help individual students, they have been folded into the long-term plan.
  5. Partner with the Community – Parents are considered partners and engaged in their student’s school.  The community’s culture is respected and embraced.

For more information about Union City, the Center for American Progress recently hosted a panel discussion about the guiding principles that helped transform Union City’s educational system.

At Transform Consulting Group, we can assist organizations with applying these lessons learned. Contact us today for a consultation!

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