Flint, MI—As part of a pilot phase that began in February 2023, the newly formed Flint Center for Educational Excellence has begun integrating existing educational programs and initiatives in Flint into its organization.
Jennifer Liversedge, program officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, said the current work of the new center involves incorporating ongoing programs, such as after-school activities, into its operations. For instance, the center will be running and rebranding the after-school program YouthQuest, which is operated by the Flint & Genesee Group at the moment.
Looking ahead, the center will also be launching new initiatives focused on parent and community engagement, Liversedge explained.
Ultimately, Liversedge said the Flint Center for Educational Excellence seeks to bolster “programmatic efficiencies” and help stakeholders in the community work collaboratively. By doing so, she noted that the center aims to ensure that students in Flint are “set up for success for the future.”
“That’s really the goal: It’s to see Flint kids thrive,” she said.
The Mott Foundation first announced the creation of the new Flint Center for Educational Excellence in February, with more than $10 million in anticipated funding to support the center’s initial operation.
Kevelin Jones, superintendent of Flint Community Schools (FCS), said he looks forward to discussions with the center’s leadership about their work in the coming weeks.
He added, “We’re not supposed to lose a beat from what we’re currently doing. It’s supposed to excel at a higher level.”
The new center will soon be leading the Community Education model in Flint, according to Liversedge. Currently, the Crim Fitness Foundation manages the Flint Community Education Initiative, which Liversedge said brings “a holistic set of resources, programs, activities, support” for students and families.
Both YouthQuest and the Flint Community Education Initiative will continue to serve students in FCS, the International Academy of Flint and the Flint Cultural Center Academy.
The center will also be running the existing Flint Early Childhood Collaborative. The collaborative aims to increase the quality and access of early childhood programs, and it is currently operated by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
The Flint Center for Educational Excellence has plans to introduce three initiatives.
The Flint Parent Collaborative, for instance, will be focused on “parent engagement and ensuring that parents’ voices are being heard and reflected in the work that as a community, we do collectively here in the City of Flint,” Liversedge said.
Another new initiative is the Community Council on Education. Liversedge said the council will bring the perspectives of different stakeholders together in support of educational opportunities in Flint. These stakeholders may involve city officials, neighborhood groups, as well as higher education and faith-based institutions, she explained.
The third initiative is to build the Network for School Excellence. That will involve “a cohort of schools that are interested in working together in a peer learning environment and who would spend time together thinking about things that they can do during the school day that would make improvements,” Liversedge said.
Depending on the cohort’s needs, some of the key areas of focus may include creating smaller class sizes, recruiting teachers and providing more support for students transitioning from elementary to middle school, and middle to high school, Liversedge explained.
Liversedge said the Flint Center for Educational Excellence aims to launch its new initiatives and complete the transition of existing programs by July 2023.