Sacramento Education Collaborative

What was the challenge?

In 2014 – only one year before the Sacramento Education Collaborative was established – a mere 26% of third graders in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento were reading at grade level. Though services were directed to better support Oak Park students and families, the improvements were incremental. Historically, the Oak Park community has suffered a long period of neglect, deprived of the resources and support needed to create generational change.

A group of organizational leaders in the community were unsatisfied with the rate of change in Oak Park and sensed an opportunity to work smarter, together. Teach for America, City Year, College Track, Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, WayUp, and Social Venture Partners were all actively working to support students and families in Oak Park, yet in distinct and disconnected ways. Independently, these organizations were directing instruction in the classroom, mentoring outside the classroom, in after-school programs and in the home, and providing informal support in the community. Recognizing the unavoidable overlaps in their services, organizational leaders began to question how each organization could generate distinct social impact. A key question emerged: what greater impact could be achieved if these services were better coordinated and aligned?

How did we address it?

Every collaborative needs a convener. Third Plateau recognized an opportunity to support these seven ambitious organizational leaders by facilitating the creation of the Sacramento Education Collaborative.

For the first time in any region, we brought together the Executive Directors of Teach for America, City Year, College Track, Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, WayUp, and Social Venture Partners to articulate a new, collective vision for Oak Park: every student graduates from high school prepared for college and career, equipped with the skills to navigate all of the choices available to them upon graduation.

Key activities involved in kicking-off the collaborative have included:

  • Set norms for the group
  • Create a culture of mutual respect and inquiry
  • Listen to better understand each organization’s greatest strengths and pressing challenges
  • Generate common goals
  • Identify new collaboration opportunities and create a work plan
  • Navigate difficult conversations around funding
  • By collaborating, sharing resources, and better focusing their individual services, the participating organizations were positioned to take advantage of economies of scale and grow together to ensure high quality services and financial sustainability.

What is the impact?

The collaborative today is effectively working toward coordinated services for students, engaging community leaders to increase awareness and support for the collaborative, and aligning professional development efforts so the members of the collaborative can share training resources going forward.

The Sacramento Education Collaborative is in the early stages of development and implementation, but is a promising example of a collective impact partnership designed to enhance the continuum of care for students. This model has the potential to be replicated in other communities across the country, improving educational and life outcomes for many more students.