FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Cities Partner with U.S. Dept. of Education to Improve Schools Through Early Childhood, Afterschool and Postsecondary Attainment Programs

March 10, 2014

Community Conversations to Focus on Closing Achievement Gap, Improving Student Outcomes

Washington, D.C. - Today at the Congressional City Conference in Washington, the National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Department of Education announced the joint signing of a "memo of understanding" (MOU) detailing a plan to strengthen partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, families and other organizations with the goal to advance learning, enhance student engagement and improve schools. As part of the MOU, NLC will hold community conversations in a number of cities across the country this year to discuss strategies to meet three goals: early childhood education, afterschool, and postsecondary attainment.

Community conversations will initially occur in 14 cities to bring together local leaders, educators, families and community leaders to discuss strategies for providing children with the foundational skills needed to enter school ready to learn, access to high-quality afterschool learning experiences and achieving postsecondary attainment. The conversations will also focus on closing achievement gaps (including for young men of color) and increasing student outcomes, including non-academic outcomes, with specific focus on social-emotional skills.

"We are proud to partner with the Department of Education in this extremely important effort to provide better educational opportunities to children nationwide," said NLC President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minn. "This ‘memo of understanding' expands a local-federal partnership that is focused on supporting local efforts to improve schools and close the achievement gap. Through our ‘community conversations' with local leaders, families and community organizations, we can formulate actionable strategies that improve educational opportunities for all."

"We know strong schools are at the heart of strong communities," added U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "That's why we're excited about this new effort with the National League of Cities to help local leaders form partnerships with families and educators, which will better ensure that every child has the opportunity to access a high-quality education, and, ultimately, that every American has the chance to pursue their dreams."

Community Conversation Participating Cities & Mayors

  • Avondale, Ariz. - Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers*
  • Berkeley, Calif. - Mayor Tom Bates
  • Dayton, Ohio - Mayor Nan Whaley*
  • Gary, Ind. - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson*
  • Hattiesburg, Miss. - Mayor Johnny Dupree*
  • Kansas City, Mo. - Mayor Sly James
  • Louisville, Ky. - Mayor Greg Fischer
  • Madison, Wis. - Mayor Paul Soglin*
  • Memphis, Tenn. - Mayor A C Wharton*
  • Phoenix, Ariz. - Mayor Greg Stanton 
  • Pittsburgh, Pa. - Mayor William Peduto*
  • Saint Paul, Minn. - Mayor Chris Coleman*
  • Salt Lake City, Utah - Mayor Ralph Becker*
  • Savannah, Ga. - Mayor Edna Branch Jackson*

*Media Availability: These mayors will be attending the press conference announcement and will be available for media interviews.

The joint announcement was made at NLC's annual Congressional City Conference held at the Marriott Wardman Park March 8-12. More than 2,000 local elected officials and leaders convened for the conference to focus on the federal policy issues that are important to local governments.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

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