Urban Education Study Tour: El Paso, TX

Program Dates 
April 3-5, 2012

GFE is pleased to once again present its Urban Education Study Tour - a unique learning opportunity designed for experienced grantmakers who are currently funding education reform efforts in urban districts and seeking to learn from other cities engaged in similar initiatives and interested in sharing and exploring ideas, lessons and experiences with colleagues about grantmaking strategies and promising educational models to take their work to the next level. The Tour will provide a deeper dive into three of GFE’s priority themes: closing achievement and opportunity gaps, strengthening the education pipeline, and supporting more high quality teaching and leadership.

The study tour is a learning community that will convene for a series of three 2-day gatherings in 2012—one in each of the three participating cities—that include conversations with superintendents, key education leaders and grantmakers. Through dialogue with key players involved with the work, participants will analyze each community’s reform strategies and the ways that education grantmakers are engaging in the reform process, while comparing and contrasting lessons from related strategies led by grantmakers working in other cities. Study tour participants are expected to attend all three gatherings.

The study tour will include groups of up to 10 funders from each of the three host cities (El Paso, Newark and Oakland), as well as up to 15 experienced urban K-12 grantmakers from other cities across the country. To enhance discussion opportunities and provide continuity across the meetings, registration is limited to 45 participants

This project is designed to strengthen grantmakers’ efforts to improve urban education by promoting the following draft learning outcomes:

  • Explore methods for building effective partnerships among funders and between funders, school districts, and other local partners to improve outcomes for all learners.
  • Identify specific, high-leverage strategies to support students of color and English Language Learners, pre-K through graduation, and to position these students to be college and career ready and to achieve post-secondary success.
  • Understand the challenges of and approaches to system alignment, with particular focus on ensuring successful transitions between pre-K and K-12 and between K-12 and post-secondary institutions.
  • Learn about successful investments in human capital, especially those that support teachers and education leaders.
  • Understand the range of roles education grantmakers can play as external change agents for urban school systems, the tensions that arise in these roles, and strategies grantmakers can employ to help resolve these tensions.

We will ground our learning in the concrete work taking place in three urban communities that offer both promising models and exemplify the challenges of effective grantmaking and education improvement work. Study Tour participants will be exposed to a range of roles and models for how grantmakers can effectively impact education outcomes, capturing valuable lessons for their craft. The program offers a nuanced behind-the-scenes look at both the specific education reform strategies and the ways that grantmakers engaged with districts in the reform process.

By sharing what’s worked—promising practices, successes and learning across sites—as well as exploring setbacks and challenges, your individual understanding will deepen as the group’s knowledge grows. Participants will act as both teachers and learners by offering questions, feedback, and advice as well as uncovering their assumptions about their change efforts. The relationships built during the Study Tour can be tapped for learning and exchange long after the study tour ends.