San Rafael, CA – With a commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion and equity, the County of Marin supports like-minded nonprofits that work to level the playing field and improve the quality of life for people in need. That spirit has resulted in a collaboration between the County and the Marin Promise Partnership, which is dedicated to closing the education achievement gap.
Members of the Marin Promise Partnership meet monthly and hold each other accountable for advancements in educational equity.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors on March 12 approved $100,000 in matching funds for Marin Promise Partnership efforts in 2019. County funding was instrumental in creating the partnership five years ago. It has since grown to 40 influential people representing 32 agencies
, plus dozens of private-party supporters.
“The collective impact approach of this partnership is very effective,” said Sara Jones, Director of the Marin County Free Library and a member of the partnership’s Executive Committee. “It aligns the right partners to support and enhance education. Marin’s profound educational equity gap causes disparate outcomes for Marin’s kids, so this is critical work that directly aligns with County goals for educational equity.”
The partnership approach is to accelerate and amplify the work of each agency by weaving together all the systems operating separately. Preschools, public K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, nonprofits, grassroots community groups, government programs, educational philanthropy efforts and for-profit educational services all operate with different goals, data systems, policies and administrative processes.
“The Marin Promise Partnership always looks at the data and tests and refines specific approaches to ensure every child is ready to learn before entering school, reads proficiently in third grade, has tools for success in middle and high school and is prepared for college and careers,” Jones said.
Shelley Hamilton, Marin Promise’s Director of Collaborative Action, said the partnership was formed because of the need to share data, create a collective vision, set goals and then focus on measurable successes by the partnering agencies. There are monthly meetings of the partnership council and its action teams on particular projects, and each participant holds the others accountable for systemic advancements.
“The core focus is on racial equity,” she said. “A student’s outcome can be very consistently predicted based on ethnicity and skin color, and there’s a terrible gap between the performance of white students and others. A lot of goodwill and attention had gone into this issue previously, but nothing seemed to be budging when groups were acting individually. Now we’re starting to see results. The whole premise is about making systemic changes, not just adding programs.”
Marin Promise recently secured some national grants and is leveraging local investments. Goals for the coming year include providing actionable data reports, increasing reading proficiency among third-graders, increasing math proficiency for all students up to ninth grade, increasing enrollment in post-secondary programs, and closing varying school district gaps in academic eligibility for University of California and California State University campuses.
Education is just one facet of the County of Marin’s equity measures and one of the Board of Supervisors’ top-priority “Four E’s” of ongoing focus: Equity, Education, Economy, and Environment. The County’s 5 Year Business Plan focuses on equity and inclusion, and the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in 2016 that affirmed those priorities and took a stand against all forms of discrimination and intolerance. For more data about equity measures in Marin, check the County’s Equity Dashboard.