After six years of progress, the Geneva City School District boasts an 87.6 percent graduation rate, up from 70.7 percent in 2010. The results are the efforts of dedicated teachers and family members assisted by Geneva 2020, the community-wide initiative to increase graduation rates, improve literacy and boost college and career readiness for K-12 students using the collective impact model.
Superintendent of Geneva City Schools Trina Newton is grateful for the community collaboration. “The success of our students, born out in our graduation rate, is truly a success for and by the entire community. We owe a great deal to our partners at Geneva 2020 who continue to help focus our efforts and forge ties with the city’s nonprofits, businesses and individuals,” she says.
Amy Jackson Sellers, the Geneva 2020 program coordinator, agrees. “The school district and Geneva 2020 made improving the graduation rate a priority, and then administrators carefully studied the data behind the graduation rate, being cognizant that behind every data point is a high school student trying to succeed.”
In an effort to continue to build a sustainable future for Geneva 2020, the initiative also partnered with the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, a national organization that helps communities track data on educational success and improve communication in order to increase programs and support for students.
Katie Flowers, a member of the Geneva 2020 steering committee and the HWS Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, says collaborating with StriveTogether has given Geneva 2020 tested advice and support from communities across the country.
“Formal alignment with the national StriveTogether network is helping to ensure our trajectory toward supporting children from those formative early years, through high school and college, and on to promising careers,” Flowers says. “It’s exciting to join a nationwide support system of other collective impact initiatives to further leverage local and national best practices.”
The StriveTogether network consists of 68 community partnerships in 32 states and Washington, D.C. that are working to improve educational success for every child by bringing together cross-sector partners in their communities around a common goal. The Network impacts more than 8.2 million students nationwide.
“Across the country, communities in the Cradle to Career Network are demonstrating how, by working through a common method, they can improve student outcomes,” StriveTogether Managing Director Jeff Edmondson says. “We are excited to welcome Geneva 2020 into the Network.”
For Flowers, the partnership will continue to build upon the successful approach Geneva 2020 has taken thus far by providing supports that meet the needs of every student, “starting with community inclusive conversations about what school success looks like for every child in Geneva.”
Geneva 2020 was founded on the collective impact model, which brings together all facets of the community, including for-profits, non-profits, faith-communities and others to ensure students have the skills they need to graduate from high school and effectively pursue college degrees and careers. After being inspired by StriveTogether’s impact in Cincinnati, Ohio, HWS President Mark D. Gearan convened a group of community leaders in 2011 to establish Geneva 2020. Cincinnati’s story was featured in the Stanford Social Innovation’s “Collective Article” and helped guide the effort in Geneva.