As Education Forward DC enters its fifth year of supporting the leaders and organizations determined to provide great outcomes for all students, we find ourselves in unprecedented times, facing great challenges.
We are looking within our organization and our work to reckon with the systemic racism brought to the forefront by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, and too many others. We are also working to ensure that our young people will be set up to learn next school year — especially our students who are furthest from opportunity — who lack access to technology and internet, are in need of extra academic and social emotional support, and those who require special services. To say the least, the challenges we face loom large on our minds and in our hearts.
But we are hopeful that, together, we can meet our young people’s needs and that the many organizations dedicated to our community can create the innovation and excellence that our students deserve.
As we enter our final year of our first strategic plan, we are focused on ensuring equity for our young people. To accomplish this, we are committing $13 million this fiscal year to achieve our goals:
Disrupting racism: More than half of our grantees are led by Black and Latinx leaders, but we must increase the number of grantees led by people who reflect the communities we serve in DC. This will require funding efforts to broaden our networks, expand our pipelines, and invest in leaders earlier to disrupt patterns that perpetuate white dominant culture and inequities in who philanthropy funds.
Increasing engagement: We will continue to support and amplify the voices of underrepresented studentsand families as we navigate this pandemic, increase the number of high-quality schools, and support the students furthest from opportunity. Now, more than ever, we need to hear from and listen to the communities most affected by our unfair system.
Building talent: Our city must work to retain diverse and effective educators and leaders throughout the city and continue to support new schools focused on quality and equity. We are focused on ensuring that more diverse and effective educators and leaders are serving our students.
Innovating and adapting learning: We must ensure that learning during COVID-19 and recovering from the pandemic’s economic aftermath is focused on equity. Simply put, what we had before COVID-19 did not serve large numbers of our students well — students with disabilities, English learners, students from immigrant families, low-income students, students in foster care, adult students, and many more. As our city enters an unfamiliar school year, EdForward DC will ask critical questions of ourselves, support innovation among our work and the work of our grantees, and ensure that every school serves all students in DC.
We have the unexpected opportunity to really do things differently this year, and we are hopeful that our collective focus and dedication will ensure we overcome and are better for the great challenges we face.
We look forward to partnering with you on behalf of our young people.
Chief Executive Officer