Friday, October 14, 2016

Houston Endowment Grant Supports New Strategic Plan

Houston Endowment, one of the most well-regarded and historic philanthropic organizations, has awarded a one-year, $450,000 grant to Spring Branch ISD to help the district build capacity to execute a new, five-year strategic plan known as The Learner’s Journey.

News of the grant announcement was made public on Sept. 27 during a breakfast event for 300 community members and stakeholders sponsored in the CityCentre development. A 10th-floor, unfinished space was used for the district gathering to symbolize the strategic plan as a work in development like a new office building.

SBISD serves a diverse population of 35,000 students. The district has established a goal of doubling the number of students who complete technical certification, military training, or a two- or four-year college degree, which is known locally as Spring Branch T-2-4.

In addition, SBISD earlier this year became one of the state’s first Districts of Innovation. The strategic direction set under The Learner’s Journey focuses on meeting the needs of all district students through personalized learning.

The Houston Endowment’s grant helps supports three critical areas: leadership development; improving the use of data to inform decision making; and school redesign and process with effective and diverse stakeholder engagement.

“We are pleased and honored to be the recipients of this significant gift from Houston Endowment. This investment in our strategic plan enables us to accelerate the pace of implementation while growing the specific leadership skills our leaders need to transform the learning experience for every child we serve,” SBISD Superintendent of Schools Scott R. Muri, Ed.D., said.

Houston Endowment Program Officer Wendy Cloonan said she applauded SBISD’s leadership for its vision. “They are carefully considering what education can and should be with a strong commitment to develop each child to his or her maximum potential. We are excited that Houston Endowment can support innovation at scale: This initiative has the potential to create vibrant learning communities for thousands of students in greater Houston,” she said.

Elliott Witney, SBISD Associate Superintendent of Research and Design, said the district was incredibly grateful to the Endowment for its early support of district work.

“We’re excited about the direction we’re moving as a school system on behalf of every child we serve. We know what we’re trying to do requires new learning and innovative approaches. This investment allows us to lay a strong, durable foundation that helps us move forward more quickly and effectively than we ever would have been able to without it,” he said.

The three specific areas of grant focus include the following:

Leadership Capacity Building

SBISD has established a goal of doubling the number of students who complete either Technical Certification, Military Training, 2-year and 4-year degrees, which is known as Spring Branch T-2-4.  The new strategic plan calls for personalizing the learning experience for “Every Child.” This audacious goal and ambitious strategic plan require the district to think differently, do different types of work, and solve new challenges.  Some of this investment will go to building leadership capacity through professional learning for campus and district leaders.

Expanding and Improving Data Capability

In addition to leadership capacity, we know that the district must bring its data to life – extracting better insights from data, and whenever possible making it actionable and real time.  SBISD will use the Endowment’s investment to expand capability in both of these areas.

Building Internal Capacity for School Redesign

Part of SBISD’s work over the next several years will be to help lead its schools and school communities through a redesign experience that culminates in improved learning experiences for every child.  We will identify and learn from experts in the field who have helped schools evolve over time, and we intend to leverage that expertise to build internal capacity.

Welcome to the Journey >>


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