Detroit — A $3.5 million pilot program that infuses cash into four non-profit charter schools is paying for teacher retention bonuses, new curriculum and building and technology improvements.
The Detroit Children’s Fund, a nonprofit organization in Detroit, launched its School Collaboration Collective program earlier this spring at Escuela Avancemos Academy, Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, Hope Academy and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.
Jack Elsey, executive director of Detroit Children’s Fund, said the program was created to address systemic issues in Detroit education at the school building level.
Selected schools were required to show some indicators of success and have a strong belief that all children can succeed, said Elsey who gathered charter school officials Monday in Detroit to provide an update on the program and its investments.
“(The program) is a deep commitment to four nonprofit charter schools in Detroit to give them the time, the resources, the coaching and development and the long-term commitment that they need in order to go from good to great,” Elsey said.
The program takes a holistic approach to school improvement by combining national best practices and school level data to improve student performance, fund officials said.
To do that, the fund provides support to each school with 1:1 coaching for teachers and instructional leaders, computers and technology for students, school visits, common core aligned curriculum and intensive leadership training.
“It is a customized approach to each school,” Elsey said. “We leave room for schools to say these are pieces missing that we can use additional support on.”
The schools are collaborating with one another throughout the process of the program through monthly cohort training sessions, said Erica Robertson, deputy director of the fund.
“We believe our teachers are superheroes. They work against a lot of challenges,” Robertson said. “They can’t do everything to drive transformational change. We want to bring in the resources to drive that change. We looked at leaders who wanted to do the same work.”
Fund officials say they are seeing results on the early stages of the program. Escuela Avancemos Academy was forced to move from its buildings at the end of the 2018-19 school year and administrators feared losing teachers.
Due to the fund’s plan to provide increased instructional support and retention bonuses for school staff, Escuela Avancemos was able to retain 100 percent of its staff for the upcoming school year, said Sean Townsin, principal at Escuela Avancemos Academy.
“The partnership with DCF came at a critical moment for our school,” Townsin said. “The support our teachers are getting through the program, in both professional development and monetary incentives, helped to make our teachers feel respected and valued, and ultimately want to stay.”
While larger school districts like Detroit Public Schools Community District and others might be able to collaborate with each other within their own buildings, charter schools are often districts with only one school.
That means teachers and building leaders feeling isolated, Robertson said. A day of training this summer in Detroit brought 175 educators together in one room where they looked at data together and talked about ideas that work in the classroom.
“A teacher told me ‘We feel so isolated and so alone in this work. But to come together with a bunch of other teachers, this is something we have never had,’ ” Robertson said.
“That isolation is real. …This program is getting teachers outside the city and visit other schools doing really great things,” Robertson said.
Elsey said after the pilot is over in 2020, the fund will consider a five-year investment into the program.
“Our goal is to validate a formula that really works,” he said. “Our partnerships will be a lifetime. It will change as the needs of the school evolve.” email@example.com
On September 29, Detroit Children’s Fund hosted its 2nd Annual Dinner, supporting the improvement of K-12 public education in the city of Detroit. The event, chaired by Kim and Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President and President, Global Product Group and Cadillac, General Motors Company, raised a record $2.17 million through generous sponsorships and donations. Included in this total was a $1 million match from DCF board member Adam Levinson and his wife, Brittany.
The Annual Dinner was held at the Detroit Public Library and had a sold out crowd of nearly 300 supporters. Guests enjoyed a strolling cocktail reception in the center of the library before heading upstairs to the library’s historic Strohm Hall for a formal dinner, program and live auction.
The program was emceed by Morning News Anchor WDIV Local 4 News Detroit, Rhonda Walker, and included several notable speakers – DCF executive director, Jack Elsey; President and COO of Crain Communications, and Chairman of Detroit Children’s Fund board of directors, KC Crain; DCF Board Member and President and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, Tonya Allen; and event chair and GM executive, Mark Reuss.
A live auction closed out the program and included five VIP experience packages for events like the Indy 500, ESPYS Awards Show, and the Rocket Mortgage classic. Combined, the auction items raised $121,000 for Detroit Children’s Fund, which contributed to the overall event total.
Following the program, guests made their way to the after party in the library’s arts & literature room, where they enjoyed live entertainment by DJ John Arnold with percussionist Dan Austin; LED dancers from The Dancing Fire; custom cocktails and late night snacks.
Major event supporters included: Host Sponsor, General Motors; Presenting Sponsor, Tom and Holly Gores with Platinum Equity; Hometown Match Sponsor, Brittany and Adam Levinson; Executive Sponsors, Barton Malow, Crain Communications Inc, Ilitch companies, Kojaian, Lear Corporatation, Edward C. & Linda Dresner Levy Foundation, and Magna; Platinum Sponsors, AVL Americas, Mary Kay & Keith Crain, Gretchen & Ethan Davidson, DTE Energy Foundation, Marlene & Bill Emerson, Fata Automation, FleishmanHillard, Gallagher Kaiser, Ghafari, Kenwal Steel Corp. and the Eisenberg Family, Quicken Loans Community Fund, The Suburban Collection; and Media Sponsor, Crain’s Detroit Business.
For more information about the Annual Dinner, a full list of sponsors, and for the latest updates about the 2019 event, please visit detroitchildrensfund.org/annualdinner.
Dear Partners, Friends and Supporters of the Detroit Children’s Fund,
As we approach our 2nd Annual Dinner, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and taking stock of the incredible progress we’ve made. The usual thing to do is say that we’re humbled and proud of the work we’ve done – and while we are – I’m also truly encouraged by what we and our partners have accomplished in just 12 short months. More importantly, while we acknowledge the mountain of work ahead of us, I am deeply hopeful about what the future holds for Detroit’s children and know that if we stay the course, we can continue to build on this year’s impact to dramatically improve the lives of Detroit’s children. Read More
On Monday, June 25, Detroit Children’s Fund hosted its 2nd Annual Golf Outing – The Graduate Cup. Through generous sponsorships and donations, nearly $240,000 was raised to benefit Detroit schoolchildren.
Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) is a nonprofit organization that makes high-potential investments to expand successful schools, greatly improve lower performing schools and discover and develop talented educators so that one day every child in Detroit has the opportunity to receive an excellent education.
Proceeds from the event will specifically support DCF’s investment in the Harvard Strategic Data Fellows Program with Detroit Public Schools Community District. This integral program will hire a team to create and implement a new data collection and reporting system for the district.
“We know that every top-performing school, not only in Detroit but across the country, relies on strong and clear data to improve student outcomes. Superintendent Vitti and his team at Detroit Public Schools Community District have made improving their data systems a priority and we are thrilled to be able to partner with them to support in this effort.” said DCF executive director, Jack Elsey. “For the first time ever, the district will have the data they need to improve schools and student success. We’re proud to support this effort as they build a more effective operation.”
Nearly 100 participants attended the golf outing, chaired by Arn Tellem, vice chairman of the Detroit Pistons. Attendees enjoyed an 18-hole scramble at the newly renovated Bloomfield Hills Country Club, a barbeque lunch and awards dinner. Golfers participated in contests throughout the course, including four chances to win brand-new Cadillacs, and one chance to win a Lincoln Navigator. The winning team — Rich Dolph, Ehren Gonzales, Nicholas Morrow, and Jeff Smith – was presented with The Graduate Cup.
“We are tremendously grateful to all of our sponsors and board members for their support of the golf outing. A special thank you to event chair, Arn Tellem, for his leadership, and to our chairman of the board, KC Crain, for making the event such a success.” said Nick Karmanos, DCF’s chief advancement officer. “The level of support we have seen from our community is incredible. It is the right time to make big improvements in the quality of education in Detroit.”
Sponsors for the event included: Title Sponsor, General Motors; Eagle Sponsors, Crain Communications Inc. and Detroit Pistons; Birdie Sponsors, AlixPartners, Gretchen and Ethan Davidson, Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation, Christopher and Kelle Ilitch, Kojaian, Lear Corporation, The Lincoln Motor Company, Nelson Ventures, Mona and Matt Simoncini, syncreon, Systems Technology Group, Inc. (STG), and Toyota; and Hole In One Sponsor, Cadillac.
On May 22, the Detroit Children’s Fund Women’s Ambassador Luncheon was held at Chartreuse Kitchen in Detroit. The event, hosted by Ashley Crain, Gretchen Davidson and Kelle Ilitch, brought together 50 influential women in the metro Detroit community, including philanthropists and community leaders, to learn about and discuss the work being done to improve Detroit education and how DCF is leading the way.
Jack Elsey, DCF’s executive director, and Tonya Allen, founding board member of DCF and president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, set the content of the conversation, discussing DCF’s mission to make high-potential investments to expand successful schools, greatly improve lower performing schools, and discover and develop talented educators so that every child in Detroit has the opportunity to receive an excellent education.
The event encouraged attendees to become Ambassadors of DCF’s work. It was also an opportunity for guests to ask pressing questions about Detroit Children’s Fund and the status of education in Detroit. Many frequently asked questions were discussed and asked during the lunch, including:
Why do we need to recruit/grow schools in Detroit when we already have too many?
Detroit is in desperate need of more quality schools. The city does have more capacity than it needs, but it does not yet have nearly enough quality schools to ensure every student has access to a quality education.
Why is educator talent so important?
As in any industry, high-performing educators get the best results. Study after study has shown that the single most important factor in a student’s learning is a quality teacher in their classroom every day. Strong school leaders develop and retain high-performing teachers, creating schools that have few, if any, gaps in instruction, ensuring that students can have a quality teacher every year without fail.
Will DCF support after school programs, athletics, and other programs not directly related to academic outcomes or school quality?
There are a significant number of organizations in the city, state and nationally that support these kinds of essential programs for schools and students. DCF’s mission is to dramatically increase the number of quality schools in Detroit and, while we believe that children should be engaged in a variety of ways outside the classroom, our investments will focus on opportunities that get at the heart of improving academic opportunity and outcomes—school improvement and expansion, educator development and recruitment and system-wide enabling conditions.
For more information about DCF and ways to give, visit detroitchildrensfund.org. Upcoming Detroit Children’s Fund fundraising events include:
The Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) has launched a new $900,000 Team Fellows Program that aims to bring advisors into Detroit schools to provide intensive coaching to principals, assistant principals, deans and other top administrators. The coaches will work with school leaders together as a team to collectively create improvement plans, then work to implement them. The program currently operates at Mumford Academy and two Detroit charter schools.
“At a foundational level, all high-performing schools have a clear vision for what they want to achieve,” said Jack Elsey, executive director of DCF. “They’re constantly assessing themselves and having others assess them. … The Team Fellows is designed to provide those reflective moments.”
DCF sees the Team Fellows Program model as one that could expand to across the city and provide a positive growth environment and support system for emerging leaders in Detroit’s education community. To learn more about the program and the impact it is making in Detroit schools, read a new article by Erin Einhorn of Chalkbeat Detroit.