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SchoolSmartKC launches as independent collaborative with area schools

SchoolSmartKC launched last week as an education organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap in the Kansas City public school system in the next 10 years.

The new nonprofit seeks to double the percentage of Kansas City schools and students that demonstrate performance at or above the state level over the next 10 years. SchoolSmartKC’s collaborative approach includes engagement from all education stakeholder groups in Kansas City, including parents, teachers and administrators at both Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) and charter schools.

“Every student in the Kansas City public school system deserves the opportunity to achieve success in education, work and life after high school,” said Awais Sufi, President and CEO of SchoolSmartKC. “Working together as a community, we can focus our collective energies and financial support to expand and fortify quality schools and bring meaningful improvements in lower performing schools.”
SchoolSmartKC will utilize three key strategies to close the achievement gap in Kansas City:

Better parent engagement: Cultivating a robust constituency of parents that are informed about school quality and empowered to take action .

Direct investments in schools: Making substantial, coordinated investments to expand and fortify quality school offerings, while also supporting the improvement of schools that can and should do better

Support pro-student policies: Serving as an unyielding voice insisting on a quality education for all students in the area and supporting practical policy changes needed for sustained improvement SchoolSmartKC announced its first direct investment, an initial grant of over $563,000 over two years, to create new support programs for low-income students at six KCPS schools and four charter schools through a research-based program called Communities in Schools (CIS). CIS will place site coordinators at each of the ten schools to develop and coordinate services needed by low-income students to ensure they overcome both academic and non-academic barriers to achievement.

Assistance provided includes support for clothing, nutrition, healthcare, transportation and more. The 10 schools, together enrolling over 3,600 students, include:

Alta Vista High School

Benjamin Banneker Elementary School

Central Academy of Excellence

Central Middle School

Crossroads Charter Schools

Frontier School of Excellence

George Melcher Elementary School

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy

Northeast High School

Al Dimmitt Superintendent of Guadalupe Centers/Alta Vista Charter Schools told Hispanic News, “We are proud to have been selected to participate in the Communities in Schools program. This program provides critical resources assisting students in meeting academic and life goals. By locating in the school and connecting students to needed support systems, CIS make an important contribution to student success. Students will benefit from having an additional adult in the building whose focus is identifying and meeting academic, family, and personal challenges. In supporting students and families in meeting life challenges, they are better able to focus on academic goals and achievement. Guadalupe Centers Schools/Alta Vista are pleased for the opportunity to partner with SchoolSmartKC in their commitment to the students, families and future of our Kansas City community. Through the partnership, I am confident in our community’s ability to fulfill our vision, and our students’ ability to succeed more fully.”

Northeast Middle School SchoolSmartKC intends to announce two additional, significant investments in the coming weeks. Combined with the CIS announcement today, SchoolSmartKC will donate roughly $3.3 million to schools and programs in the coming weeks to help close the achievement gap. “My goal as Superintendent is to ensure that we have quality seats for every single kid in this city and SchoolSmartKC is providing a real opportunity for us to work together to demonstrate that the education landscape in Kansas City is a model for the country,” said KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell. “We are excited to be part of a conversation that brings all education stakeholders together to find common ground and solutions for kids,” added Dean Johnson, Executive Director of Crossroads Charter Schools. SchoolSmartKC was incubated out of the Kauffman Foundation and is funded by the Hall Family Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation. It is an independent 501(c)3 organization.