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Cities for Success: A BHEF Leadership Summit

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November 1st, 2010
By Jeanne Contardo, Director of Programs, BHEF

Last week high-level delegations from Des Moines, Iowa, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, including the cities’ mayors; superintendents; business, higher education, and philanthropy leaders; as well as dozens of other national leaders engaged in education improvement, attended Cities for Success: A BHEF Leadership Summit in Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose of this event was to explore models for community-wide education improvement and to identify vital components to launching new education attainment focused efforts.

Why Louisville? Louisville is the home to one of BHEF’s most successful member-led regional efforts. Over the past three years, BHEF has collaborated with the business community in Louisville to provide strategic guidance in shaping a plan to boost education attainment. The result was the Greater Louisville Education Commitment, signed May 13, 2010. By signing this joint commitment, 24 business, education, government, and community leaders agreed to work together to add at least 40,000 more bachelor’s degrees and 15,000 more associate’s degrees among Louisville area residents in coming years.

BHEF believes that the strategy behind such a comprehensive community effort can be a model for the nation on how to create lasting partnerships and leadership networks to improve student achievement, with a focus on the entire P-20 pipeline. Moreover, so do BHEF members—Fortune 500 CEOs and prominent college and university presidents—who wanted to learn about the Louisville model for increasing baccalaureate degree attainment.

In light of this, Cities for Success convened teams from several cities where BHEF has a critical mass of members to both learn from the Louisville model and to develop strategies to tackle education reform in their own communities. In particular, Cities for Success is a huge initial step for both Oklahoma City and Des Moines, two BHEF member-led localities seeking to tackle the education challenges facing their respective communities.

Moving forward, we expect to collaborate with these leadership teams to provide the strategic advice and guidance around the evidenced-based practice so vital to success. An important first step will be pointing them to this resource center, www.StrategicEdSolutions.org. Please take a moment to explore this site and let us know what you think!

Jeanne Contardo
BHEF Director of Programs


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