The Century Foundation Launches the Bridges Collaborative, An Unprecedented Grassroots Initiative to Advance School Integration

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Century Foundation Launches the Bridges Collaborative, An Unprecedented Grassroots Initiative to Advance School Integration

The Bridges Collaborative, a first-of-its kind grassroots initiative to advance racial and socioeconomic integration and equity in America’s schools, officially launched this week. The inaugural cohort features 56 organizations—including 27 school districts, 17 charter schools, and 12 housing organizations—which together represent more than 3.5 million children nationwide. The collaborative spans more than 20 states and includes organizations of varying size, geographies, and student demographics. It includes representatives from three of the five largest school districts in the country as well as districts and organizations that are leaders in pioneering innovative integration strategies.

The collaborative, which was announced with an open call for applications earlier this year by The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank that has worked for decades on school integration, is unique in the world of K-12 education for its size, diversity, and mission. It comes at a pivotal moment for the cause of school integration, with growing support for desegregation efforts following decades of stalled progress, as well as heightened attention to the importance of educational equity in light of the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on students and schools.

Over the next two years, the collaborative will serve as a hub for practitioners from across the country, providing school and housing leaders the opportunity to learn from one another, build grassroots momentum, and develop successful approaches for integration. The initiative is led by Stefan Louis Lallinger, who most recently served as a Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and is a former school principal in New Orleans. Lallinger’s grandfather, Louis Redding, was a lawyer who argued the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, before the Supreme Court in 1954.

“Never before has there been an organization like the Bridges Collaborative. The sheer breadth and depth of knowledge and experience represented by the 56 groups in this cohort sends a clear message: we will deliver the high-quality, integrated school experience that the next generation deserves,” said Stefan Lallinger, Director of the Bridges Collaborative. “COVID-19 and the racial reckoning we’re experiencing underscore that the fight for racial and economic justice is far from over. To have any shot at winning that fight, we must first tackle the rampant inequities and segregation in our nation’s education system. That’s exactly what the Bridges Collaborative was built for.”

The inaugural cohort will meet virtually for the first time next week—Thurs, Oct. 15 and Fri, Oct. 16—for a series of panels and breakout sessions on topics ranging from effective messaging and communications, to student performance and classroom dialogue, to best practices and lessons learned from the ground. Members will have the chance to meet peer organizations from across the cohort, as well as strategize with groups based on similar practice areas and geographic characteristics...

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