As a grantmaker, I get the opportunity to hear about how organizations are tackling some of the most pressing issues facing youth in our state. One of the events that I look forward to most is the annual Grantmakers for Education conference, because it gives me the chance to learn how other funders are thinking about systemic education reform, and highlights some promising practices taking place across the nation. This year’s conference brought together nearly 500 education grantmakers in New York City for keynote speeches, site visits and panel discussions. This format may sound similar to other conferences you have attended, but what do 500 education grantmakers actually talk about when they come together?
The hot issues at the conference are probably not surprising to anyone who follows education reform. College and career readiness, the Common Core State Standards, STEM, better use of data, collaboration, district-level reform and digital learning were all topics that had a lot of buzz. I was especially interested in a session on “College and Career Readiness: What Do We Mean?” that was moderated by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The session featured an engaging trio of panelists including Nader Twal from Long Beach Unified School District, JD Hoye from the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and NAF alumnus Michael Durant. Frameworks developed by both NAF and ConnectEd were presented to describe what it means to be ready for both college and career.
What I found to be most encouraging, though, is that all the big issues being discussed at the conference — including college and career readiness — tied incredibly well to what we’re doing collectively as a Linked Learning field. For example, sessions on the Common Core were packed, and seeing that level of interest continued to reinforce that Linked Learning is ideally positioned to be a central way districts deliver the Common Core standards.