The Marin Community Foundation has announced a five-year, $35 million initiative designed to close the educational achievement gap in Marin County, where only 21 percent of low-income students and students of color complete high school ready for post-secondary education.
The initiative will address the challenges faced by students who are falling behind in school, with the long-term goal of helping them succeed after they graduate high school. Funding will be focused on three areas: helping to ensure that young children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed; providing extra help to students in elementary, middle, and high school so they are prepared to apply to and complete college or other post-secondary education; and supporting local districts to improve schools with relatively high numbers of students who need extra help.
The work with young children will focus on improving the quality of early childhood education centers and teaching parents how to engage their children in educational activities and be more involved as advocates for their education. "All the research shows the importance of investing in early childhood education," said MCF president Thomas Peters. "If children don't enter kindergarten ready to learn, it's much more difficult for them to catch up in later grades. Often [however], many low-income families lack the background or resources to help their kids prepare for school."
To improve students' chances of getting into college, the foundation will continue to invest in helping them learn about their educational options and how to access financial aid programs. In addition, the initiative will support local school districts' efforts to improve curricula, teaching methods, and support services in schools with higher numbers of students who need extra assistance.
The foundation will work closely with public schools in the county, agencies providing afterschool programs and teacher training, providers of early childhood education, and scholarship and college access programs. "Through this initiative, we are investing not just in the future of the students benefiting from these efforts, but in the future of our entire community," Peters said. "We can, collectively, change the trajectory of success for these young people."