LAUNCH Flagstaff, Aims to Improve Education Outcomes Cradle Through Career

Flagstaff, AZ | Submitted by Paul Kulpinski

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The quality of education in any community has a dramatic impact on everyone’s quality of life, whether they have children in the schools or not. It has an effect on tax revenues and the capacity of local governments to provide services, the local employment rate and the ability of cities and towns to attract new businesses, among other things.

That’s why a group of stakeholders in Flagstaff have come together to improve educational outcomes for local students. LAUNCH Flagstaff encompasses a wide variety of stakeholders, including local businesses, nonprofits, and education representatives, who are working together to solve the challenge of how to most effectively deliver a high-quality education to all students at all stages. They want every child to be prepared for every opportunity.

Supported by the backbone of United Way of Northern Arizona, LAUNCH (Learn, Advocate, Unite, Network, Contribute, Help) is utilizing a collective impact framework that capitalizes on the educational programs that are already impactful. By bringing together key groups, they host conversations about what’s working in local education, and where Flagstaff needs to improve, based on the data. They’re specifically focused on five telling metrics: kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, eighth-grade math, high school graduation and postsecondary attainment. These focus areas are aligned with the Arizona Education Progress Meter so that teams at the local and state levels are working toward the same goal and creating collective success.

A partnership years in the making, LAUNCH Flagstaff is possible thanks to generous donations from United Way of Northern Arizona, Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff and the Wharton Foundation.

LAUNCH Flagstaff hasn’t been around long, but it’s already having success in bringing key people together and helping decision-makers to recognize where to focus efforts. Part of the challenge in Flagstaff is the wide variety of programs operating without infrastructure and collaboration. Discussions are already fleshing out which programs are having the most impact and which programs might need to be tabled to free resources for those that are helping students achieve.
What’s more, local leaders and school officials are beginning to recognize how every decision impacts the big picture. For instance, a child’s reading skills in the third grade are a strong predictor of their future performance in high school and even whether not they’ll graduate. So even small changes to curriculum and testing in the early grades have a long-lasting impact.
To engage the community at-large, LAUNCH Flagstaff will be convening experts for a community town hall event on funding preK-12 education, in addition to hosting an education film series where locals can learn more about the education system and how it impacts the community as a whole. To learn more about LAUNCH Flagstaff and stay informed about its efforts, sign up for ongoing emails on their site.

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