Community leaders announce community-wide education initiative

Kalamazoo community leaders from public, private and nonprofit sectors came together this morning at the Kalamazoo Public Library to announce the creation of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, a dynamic collaboration of individuals and organizations embracing a vision that every child in Kalamazoo County will be ready for school, ready for college and ready for the world.

Supported by a three-year, $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and an additional $5 million over five years from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, The Learning Network is committed to building community-wide support for fundamental change in how––and how well––we educate future generations.

To achieve this vision, these resources will be leveraged and aligned with individuals and organizations involved in every part of community life. This community has a history of pioneering education initiatives, dating back to the community's support of taxpayer-funded education in the 19th century. More recently, the Kalamazoo Promise and the commitment to build a medical school at Western Michigan University demonstrate that education is a priority in the greater Kalamazoo area.

Although this community has a well-developed understanding that education is critical to economic vitality, it must face the test of a knowledge economy and worldwide forces that are inter-connected in new ways. The community must face the persistent challenge of preparing all of its children for success, especially children living in poverty.

Addressing today's challenges, The Learning Network is seeking authentic engagement of individuals and organizations in new ways to measurably improve the performance of students in the county's pre-kindergarten through college educational system.

Achieving this vision will distinguish the greater Kalamazoo area as a national-class center of learning and youth development.

The Learning Network is aligning community forces to:

  • Emphasize the value of education as the key to prosperity;
  • Leverage new and existing resources for initiatives that advance education and job-readiness;
  • Help set a common agenda to transform education; and
  • Realize the vision that the community's future depends on education.

Specifically, the Network will facilitate community-wide cooperation that will:

  • Increase school readiness for all young people;
  • Improve student performance; and
  • Prepare individuals for meaningful careers.

The Learning Network will engage families, neighborhoods, schools, governments and businesses in projects, programs and processes that foster innovation and opportunity.

The Network is building on community strengths, and will call upon leaders to fulfill a promise to become a national model of innovation and high-performance learning.

The Learning Network will support programs to boost achievement of students and improve the ability of parents to raise their children. A community engagement initiative will generate authentic dialogue in every corner of the community to produce involvement.

The Learning Network is being built on the greater Kalamazoo area's legacy of bringing about large-scale social change utilizing cross-sector coordination, not isolated interventions.

Using a community-based agenda to advance common understanding, The Learning Network values accountability and shared measurement systems.

The Learning Network will seek involvement and innovation in these areas:

  • Basic literacy;
  • College readiness and access to higher education;
  • Health and wellness;
  • Urban vitality; and
  • Economic development.

To learn more about The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, contact Suprotik Stotz-Ghosh at 269.381.4416.


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