Creative Collaborations to Address Funding Cuts

Can collaboration lead to new funding?

Can collaboration lead to new funding?


I love creating PD and curriculum to make learning rich, engaging, and powerful! I can talk about it all day! Along with the opportunity to do the work comes the need to fund it. We’ve been fortunate to have sufficient funds to keep Total Learning going for several years. Now the funding is harder, and so more time is spent planning and seeking.

Today I spoke to a prominent scholar at the CT State Department of Education. His programs support multicultural education, gender equity, and anti-bullying. These all overlap with and inform Total Learning’s philosophy and practice.

He told me it’s a terrible time to seek funding. SDE funding has been cut for several important programs, including a multicultural conference that drew 1800 attendees a year, a 3 day summer institute on bullying, and Title IX training.

A few thoughts:

  1. Funding for multicultural, equity and anti-bullying efforts are particularly needed now, as our world is rife with hatred and dogma, and interpersonal skills and understanding are so underdeveloped! Education without a moral compass is dangerous, but also ineffective. The social issues eventually lead to a weak learning environment where children sabotage learning.
  2. Those of us who are seeking funding for initiatives that make a difference must become advocates for and collaborators with others who are also doing good and related work. Through partnerships and collaborative efforts, we can construct systems that might be more likely to find the funding we need.
  3. We ask our students to learn more about others they do not know, because once you have learned about someone it is harder to objectify them. We need to do the same as educational leaders, so we understand where there are synergies. We may be stronger together than separately.

If we all are spending so much time finding fewer available funds, that means we also are spending less time creating the approaches that are needed to move education and society forward. Finding like-minded collaborators seems like a smart step.  I can start with my new colleague at the SDE!

Total Learning Summer Camp – It Makes a Difference!

TL Summer Camp Overview and Research Findings

It was always a plan for Bridgeport’s Total Learning Initiative to have an extended year – an additional month of school.  Research told us that if the children were behind their more advantaged peers, they would need time to catch up!  ABCD received funding for a pilot this year.

It was only 18 days in July for 22 rising 3rd graders.  The air conditioning was broken, and it was summer!  And . . . it was Total Learning  Summer Camp from 12 noon to 3:30.

Why rising 3rd graders?  To reduce the dreaded summer slump – the loss of reading skill over the summer break.  With mastery tests in 3rd grade, this was the obvious choice for a pilot program.

Did it make a difference?  The report is attached so you can read for yourself!  It’s pretty exciting what can happen in 18 days!  And if you think about your school year in 18-or-so day chunks, how much could get done?

Most exciting for me was the attitude changes of almost every child.  By the end of July, they were asking if they could come for another month!  Kudos to Allison Logan for creating an exceptional plan, and Rosmarie Marquez and Diane Bolarinho for their support.

Unanswered questions:  Will the gains remain through August?  Will they make a difference in Grade 3?  Will the district notice the findings and plan a larger sample for next summer?  Let’s hope the answers are yes, yes and yes!  Stay tuned to find out!