Municipal Leadership in Education Initiative

In June 2001, the YEF Institute launched the 30-month Municipal Leadership in Education (MLE) project with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The MLE project set out to support and assist local communities and to illustrate the leadership roles that mayors and councilmembers can play to promote and support school improvement.

The project also sought to identify promising practices in municipal leadership and school improvement, while developing a range of tools and resources for mayors and councilmembers who are interested in strengthening K-12 education. Cities with a population of at least 50,000 were invited to apply to participate in the intensive, targeted technical assistance project. The following six cities were selected through a competitive process:

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Lansing,Michigan
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • Portland, Oregon

Immediately following their selection, YEF Institute staff worked closely with team leaders to ensure that each team's composition reflected the full range of key community stakeholders, including municipal officials, school board members, school administrators, teachers, parents, business leaders, representatives of community and faith-based organizations, and other civic leaders. YEF Institute staff then provided intensive, ongoing support to these teams as they developed and implemented action plans for strengthening K-12 education that were tailored to meet each city's specific circumstances and needs.

The participating cities chose to address a range of issues through their local initiatives, including: 

  • Persistent achievement gaps by race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status;
  • Low achievement levels of middle-school students;
  • Inequities and inadequacies in school funding;
  • Problems related to teacher quality and retention; and
  • Lack of public confidence and insufficient connections between communities and their public schools.

Despite being faced with leadership changes, the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, government budget deficits, and other challenges, each of the six cities in the Municipal Leadership in Education project made important strides in improving education for children and youth in their communities. Lessons learned from their experiences are documented in the YEF Institute report, Stronger Schools, Stronger Cities