Programs Granted a New Day

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The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s New Day for Learning, which seeks to help communities improve existing plans to improve educational achievement through after-school programs, is under way. Last month, the foundation officially announced its demonstration sites: Providence, R.I., and San Francisco.

Each city will get $500,000 over the next three years to help government agencies and community organizations better coordinate and execute plans to help students in the city’s school districts.

For those who follow juvenile justice reform, the plan is reminiscent of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative: Find places that are already doing the right things, and help put them over the top. Both cities have high school graduation rates of over 70 percent, so by city standards, they are doing something right.

“This is intended to be glue money,” said Michelle White of GMMB, the firm Mott is using to handle communications for the project. The cities were selected because they had “political will and reform in place. Mott has no interest in being the only game in town.”

In a strange turn of events, the San Francisco project landed itself a star to spearhead it. In January, Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) fired Margaret Brodkin as director of the Department for Children, Youth and Their Families, drawing angry reactions from the youth work community. But Brodkin was not tossed out completely; Newsom assigned her to spearhead New Day for Learning.

The other eight candidates to become demonstration sites were Denver; Omaha, Neb.; St. Paul, Minn.; Chicago; Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Peekskill, N.Y.; and Mott’s hometown of Flint, Mich. Those cities will receive technical assistance, according to White, but the details of what that entails are still being “fleshed out.”