“It takes a lot of work to get a baby to graduate from college and get a job!”

That’s how Joan Wright, Convener of the Early Learning Action Network and Executive Director of Childcare Resources, sums up the challenge of helping young people in Central Alabama be better prepared for a successful life in the 21st century. It’s a process that must start at a very early age, and requires an education system that’s highly attuned and responsive to children’s needs.

The Bold Goals Education component of the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama aligns education partners in our region and facilitates their working together to achieve better outcomes for children and youth all the way from cradle to career. Following are highlights of that work in 2018.

  • The Bold Goals Education Steering Committee approved a new Bold Goal for our region: “Central Alabama will have 90% of high school seniors college and career-ready, and 125,000 highly skilled adults added to the workforce, by 2025.” Our new goal pushes us to focus on college and career readiness and aligns well with statewide goals from the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Workforce Council.
  • The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Action Network made focused and concerted efforts to inform parents and students about, and encourage them to apply for, financial aid – resulting in Alabama rising to 4th in the nation in FAFSA improvement!
  • The Workforce Action Network launched the Building (it) Together initiative in June, giving our region unprecedented data on the local labor market and our best opportunities for building a competitive workforce aligned with jobs of the future. You can get all the detailed information here.
  • The Early Learning Action Network has developed new partnerships with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education for expanding Alabama’s First Class Pre-K in our region. The network has now assisted two cohorts of childcare centers in obtaining First Class Pre-K grants.
  • The Attendance Action Network launched the Professional Learning Community, serving principals across multiple school systems by providing information and best practices aimed at stemming chronic absenteeism. Attendance is improving in 90% of the participating schools so far. We know that attendance is a key factor in reading proficiency, so the benefits of this program are clearly far-reaching and long-term.
  • The Birmingham City Schools (BCS) Action Network is excited to move into 2019 using the plans developed through the national Together for Students grant. The network also debuted, and will continue developing, the BCS asset map to help align partner services offered in BCS elementary and K-8 schools.
  • We’ve advanced into the “Sustaining Gateway” of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, meaning that we have continued to meet national benchmarks and develop partnerships in ways proven to produce results for communities. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading also selected us for national Pacesetter Honors this year!

We’re grateful to all the partners and friends of Bold Goals Education. Our region is making strides in education because of your commitment to working together and your understanding of collective impact as a means toward positive change. Here’s to even more good news in 2019!