Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the National League of Cities (NLC) has chosen Richmond as one of only four municipalities to join with the NLC in planning and hosting local "community conversations" on the topic of improving outcomes for young children by third grade. Richmond was chosen for the Educational Alignment for Young Children Initiative (the Initiative) after interviews with Dr. Carolyn Graham, deputy chief administrative officer for Human Services, and other city and school officials.
The city's outcome based budgeting approach, wherein family and individual economic stability is a focus for the Jones Administration, is part of what has set Richmond apart for this opportunity. Mayor Jones has called for the development of strategies that will lead to increased quality early learning opportunities for children 0-5 years. Recognizing that learning begins long before children enter school, these early learning strategies are designed to help prepare children to succeed in school.
"The NLC cited the leadership the city has already shown as well as the commitment of other partners in the community as a reason for the city of Richmond’s selection," said Mayor Jones. "We are very pleased that the NLC wants to not only highlight the city's efforts, but they want to support our efforts to promote young children's learning from the early years through third grade."
Under the Initiative, a community conversation will take place by the end of September 2010. This convening will focus on educational alignment efforts and seek to identify ways that community stakeholders can work together to improve outcomes for young children.
The NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families will provide technical assistance to city and school leaders in planning the event, including support in developing specific meeting materials and potential action steps for city and school leaders. Participating cities will also have access to opportunities to connect with national experts and resources, including research about promising practices.
"Obviously, we are pleased that Richmond Public Schools will be a partner and participant in the NLC's upcoming Educational Alignment for Young Children Initiative," said Richmond Public School’s Superintendent Dr. Yvonne W. Brandon. "The goals of the initiative, along with having access to national experts and research data, reinforce the district's commitment to providing children with a premier preschool learning environment. The timing of the launch also coincides nicely with the opening of the district's new regional preschool learning center for the 2010-2011 school year."
Other cities selected for the opportunity include Seattle, WA; Petal, MS; and San Antonio, TX.