City and RPS Host Community Conversation on Educational Alignment for Young Children

~Richmond one of only four cities selected to host such an event~

The city of Richmond, in conjunction with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families are hosting Richmond's Community Conversation: Educational Alignment for Young Children on Wednesday, September 22, from 2 to 7:30 p.m., at the Richmond Convention Center. Based upon a review of efforts in 11 cities to improve outcomes for young children by third grade, NLC chose Richmond as one of only four municipalities to join with the NLC in planning and hosting local "community conversations" on this topic.

Richmond was chosen for the Educational Alignment for Young Children Initiative after interviews with Dr. Carolyn Graham, deputy chief administrative officer for Human Services, and other city and school officials. The Community Conversation will focus on educational alignment efforts and identify ways that community stakeholders can work together to continue to improve outcomes for young children. The discussion will build on the current efforts of the RPS Preschool Grade Level Alliance and the city’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, and will serve as the first in a series of steps toward articulation of a formal system-wide prekindergarten – kindergarten alignment plan for the city.

According to the National League of Cities, in the long run, a high-quality, well-aligned system for young children that bridges the divide between early childhood programs and K-12 education can help improve outcomes for children, engage and support families, and strengthen the local schools and workforce. In turn, these benefits contribute to the economic and social vibrancy of a city. "Family and individual economic stability is of paramount importance in our anti-poverty strategy for the city of Richmond," said Mayor Jones. "We are developing a strategy that will lead to increased quality early learning opportunities as part of our intentional approach to youth development."

Federal officials with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will participate in the meeting to learn more about local efforts and inform federal policy in this area. Event participants include area child care providers, teams from 12 city elementary schools to include parent representation, as well as community organizations that partner with area child care providers and schools.

Richmond's Community Conversation: Educational Alignment for Young Children is being planned by a work group including Richmond Public Schools, city of Richmond, Richmond’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, parents of young children, community child care providers, the Richmond Public Library, Smart Beginnings of Greater Richmond/ United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Richmond Communities in Schools and other organizations.

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