Marin Designated as an Educational Equity Systems Change Community

November 15, 2022

Based on the work of Marin Promise Partners, the National Strive Together Cradle to Career Network has certified the county as a Systems Change community.

In recognition of its impact on the lives of youth across Marin, StriveTogether recently designated Marin Promise Partnership as a “Systems Change” Cradle to Career Network member. This designation is reserved for community partnerships that are shifting policies, practices, resources and power structures to advance equitable outcomes for youth and families of color and those experiencing poverty.

The Partnership is part of a national movement that, like Marin Promise Partnership, believes all children deserve an opportunity to reach their full educational potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code or financial circumstance. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network is closing gaps and creating opportunities across education, health, housing and more. Locally, Marin Promise Partnership is demonstrating clear evidence that Marin county is changing these systems to advance equity and improve results for local students and families.

“I’m thrilled to announce Marin as our most recent community, and the first in California, to prove it’s making a measurable and sustainable difference for every child,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “By working together, the Partners in Marin have reached an important milestone in galvanizing the community to align around a common cradle-to-career vision, learn from each other through shared data, take collaborative action, and jointly advocate for courageous, systemic shifts. Marin, one of nearly 70 network communities across the country, is taking bold steps to improve how systems serve youth and families.”

To join the national network, communities complete an assessment of their civic infrastructure development. This process measures progress against a continuum of quality benchmarks, known as the StriveTogether Theory of Action™. This proven framework has five designations — Exploring, Emerging, Sustaining, Systems Change and Systems Transformation — that indicate progress toward aligning resources around better and more equitable outcomes for youth.

“We have seen a number of the Partnership’s Milestone outcomes improving since 2013, and, for example, all three of the College and Career disparity gaps that we measure have been closing,” said Cameron Hunter, Sr. Director, Data and Operations. “But we’re not stopping there” noted David Wain Coon, Co-Chair of the Partnership’s Leadership Team, Board member and Superintendent/President of the College of Marin. Here’s what achieving systems change success has looked like in Marin.

In 2021, A cross-community team advocated for a school district policy shift to make early childhood education more accessible to vulnerable families. Marin Promise Partnership shared data indicating that the average cost for preschool is 39% higher in Marin than the statewide average and that among infants and toddlers in families who qualify for state-subsidized child care, over 60% are not receiving full-time child care. This enabled the West Marin Kindergarten Readiness Team and the Shoreline Unified School District board of directors to make the change that integrated the regional pre-K and K-12 systems so that preschool classes could be offered on elementary campuses. Integrating pre-K into the school district has allowed for increased staff wages, job security and benefits, and access to transportation and California state preschool scholarships for West Marin families.

Also in 2021, Marin Promise Partnership helped connect school districts in the county to historic new state funding to enable holistic, cradle-to-career support for students through planning and development of Community Schools. With support from the Partnership’s Backbone staff, 4 Districts were awarded more than $1 million dollars in new equity-focused planning grants. Next, the team will partner with districts to provide facilitation, data, grant writing and community engagement support so that Partners from each district area, including parents, funders, and local community leaders in addition to school and educational nonprofit executives can plan for their Community Schools implementation and collectively apply for over $13M in state-funded 5-year implementation grants

One area that Partners have been working on since the inception of the Partnership, and have seen a great deal of results in systemic improvement, has been coordinated support for high school students to achieve a bright future in college and career attainment. The Future Ready College & Career team has seen improvement on interim indicators such as attendance, financial aid form completion, passing rates and college plan completion rates. Marin Promise Partnership is also seeing a corresponding increase in the college and career milestone that measures completion of course requirements for all student groups. Despite pandemic losses, students of color in all three of the Partnership’s College & Career Milestones (Readiness, Enrollment, and Completion), have been supported to quickly rebounded to levels higher than when the Partnership started its work in 2013, thanks in part to the strength of the Partnership’s pre-pandemic infrastructure. And, new Success Networks, are now serving 900 high school students at four school sites, with another to be added this year. Since launching Success Networks, Marin’s high schools have nearly doubled the number of students of color successfully graduating with the classes they need to enroll in college and career programs. “When we transform systems through coordinated supports, we open pathways for youth to thrive.” said Liz Seabury, Senior Director of Inclusion, Instruction, and Intervention for the Tamalpais Union High School District.