III. Program Implementation (cont'd.)

B. Systemic Initiatives to Build School-Centered Learning Communities

In February 1996, CUOS was awarded a Supplemental Grant from NSF. This grant provided funding to enable Pontiac Owen Elementary and Detroit Lessenger Middle Schools to hire parent coordinators and build their own Learning Community Coalitions. Through this initiative, parents, local businesses, and other community members combined to broaden children's learning and career exploration opportunities. A learning center in each school links parent, business, and community resources with children and teachers, and provides hands-on science kits to teachers. NSF pays 50% of the coordinator cost, with schools paying another 50% through Title I or other funds, making coordinators full-time. By the end of the third year, the program and the coordinator position should be so useful and so integrated into the life of the school and its community that full-time funding will come from non-NSF sources.

Lessenger School was only a part of the initiative for Year 1 (March 1996–February 1997). Because of fundamental differences about the nature and purpose of a learning community coalition, CUOS was unable to integrate its programs and community resources into the school. After a year of sincere effort, when we felt that we still were not actually reaching children, it seemed time to move on. Lessenger, as many schools and community centers throughout the State of Michigan, can still take advantage of a Coalition partnership through the use of Web-based resources (including those developed specifically for the Lessenger community).

For Years 2 and 3 of the Supplemental Grant, CUOS added a new Learning Community partner, George Elementary School in Ypsilanti. Just as with Owen and Lessenger Schools, the student population there has high percentages of under-achieving and minority children. In 1996–97, more than 64% of the student population qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, and the transiency rate there is also high. On the MEAP achievement tests, just under 35% of fourth graders were rated satisfactory in reading and math while, among fifth graders, less than 7% scored proficient in science but almost 67% were proficient writers. Just as importantly, the principal and staff at George embraced the idea of a community coalition and welcomed any opportunity to bring more parents and community members into the building.

In addition, we have established a serious learning community mentoring model at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. An African American mother has volunteered to develop and support the program. We have secured funding to pay her part-time, as we do the parent coordinators in Ypsilanti and Pontiac, with a commitment from the school to support her efforts for additional hours each week.

1998 Progress Report
I. Executive Summary
II. Introduction
  A. The Problem
  B. The Solution
III. Program Implementation
  A. Organization and Management
  B. Systemic Initiatives to Build School-Centered Learning Communities
  C. Coalition Web Site
  D. Reach Out! Student Organization
  E. Math-Science Tutor/Mentoring Programs
  F. Science Outreach Programs
  G. Coalition Building and Stakeholder Development
IV. Conclusion
Appendix A: Coalition Partners List
Appendix B: Web-Site Home Page

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