Geneva 2020 Launches with Top Support
Posted on Friday, March 29, 2013
The launch of the Geneva 2020 initiative recently took place at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and was featured in the Finger Lakes Times. The event to kick off an effort to assist the Geneva City School District drew more than 100 community leaders, steering committee members and supporters.
"Today's launch exceeded my expectations in terms of participation and content," the article quotes City Manager Matt Horn. "If it is in any way indicative of the community's passion for this program, we will be unstoppable."
"We were hoping to get 40 people and got almost 100," Colleges President Mark D. Gearan is quoted. "That is exciting."
Geneva 2020 is an important effort to advance the Geneva schools and build a stronger community. It looks to harness the resources of the entire Geneva community - non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals - to provide assistance in three key areas identified by the Geneva City School District as being critical to the future of Geneva's children: graduation rate, career and college readiness and literacy.
The article notes, "The idea sprang from a successful, collective impact initiative in Cincinnati, a model that has helped to guide HWS, a number of nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals with the motivation to help future generations succeed, harnessing a positive future for current and future residents of this city."
The full article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Imagine: Geneva 2020
Initiative aimed at boosting literacy, graduation rates in school district
Julie Anderson • March 27, 2013
The Geneva 2020 initiative is officially off and running toward its goal of improving graduation rates, career and college readiness, and literacy among city school district students.
More than 100 community leaders, steering committee members and supporters convened at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Tuesday afternoon to hear what's in store for the next seven years.
The mission statement of Geneva 2020 is straightforward: "When a community comes together to support a single cause, the results can be truly transformational." It describes the aspirations involved with a collaborative effort of organizations, stakeholders and community members.
The idea sprang from a successful, collective impact initiative in Cincinnati, a model that has helped to guide HWS, a number of nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals with the motivation to help future generations succeed, harnessing a positive future for current and future residents of this city.
"The Power of Collaboration" opened Tuesday's presentation. The short, three-minute video used the community playground built in the fall on the lakefront as an example of how effective community partnership can work and what kind of impact it has on all participants.
"Time and time again the Geneva community has proved that collaboration and partnership are the keys to our success," City Manager Matt Horn said. "Geneva 2020 is an opportunity to set the bar once more, reaching farther into the community, to a broad span of partners, to achieve something transformational."
Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark Gearan followed the video by explaining the collective impact model in more detail. By having a common agenda, a shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and a backbone support organization, anything can be accomplished, he said.
"When I was on the White House Council of Community Solutions, I was introduced to the context of the Cincinnati initiative," Gearan said. "I remember attending a meeting and thinking that Geneva would be a great small city example of this. People here do come together, and our size and scale are going to be a great advantage. We all know each other."
Of the three initiatives that have been chosen as the primary focus, each one has its own measurement system.
According to city school district Superintendent Trina Newton, the goal for 2012-13 is at least an 80 percent graduation rate. The Geneva 2020 initiative wants that to be 90 percent by 2020.
The benchmark for literacy is for 20 percent of students to receive a mastery level, 85 percent or higher, on the state Regents exam. Career and college readiness will be measured by the expansion of GHS alumni outreach efforts.
Geneva 2020 includes 114 priorities overall. Mentoring, resources, goal setting for youth, programming and funding.
Participants broken into small panels at the luncheon discussed what kind of commitments they can make as individuals, or as part of businesses or organizations, that will help to bring these priorities to fruition.
Geneva 2020 has its own website, www.hws.edu/about/geneva_2020.aspx. Communication will be furthered through Facebook and collaborative meetings.
Katie Flowers, director of Community Engagement and Service Learning at HWS, and Pat Heieck, a volunteer program coordinator, will be responsible for being the "backbone" of the initiative. They will help collaborate, disseminate and integrate information.
The overwhelming response from the community yesterday astounded some.
"Today's launch exceeded my expectations in terms of participation and content," Horn said. "If it is in any way indicative of the community's passion for this program, we will be unstoppable."
"We were hoping to get 40 people and got almost 100," Gearan said. "That is exciting."
"I think that there is great potential, a lot of energy, and it was a very eclectic room. I am also coming into this as a parent of two children. I know how dedicated the teachers are, and they are under a lot of pressure. If we all have a clear sense that we are all in this together, work hard and come together, this will gain a strong momentum."
Newton gave a presentation on the state of public education in Geneva and outlined some bold initiatives toward the creation of a new vision, distinguishing it and making it as unique as the students.
She was pleased with the turnout as well.
"I don't think any of us knew what to expect, but couldn't you feel the synergy?" Newton said. "It is off to a good start. An awful lot of people were there showing how they are rethinking measures to support the school district."
Kelly Mittiga, senior vice president and director of deposit and retail operations at First Niagara Bank commented, "As leaders of businesses and organizations, we must challenge ourselves to think about both how we move the ball down the field today, and how we reach the endzone in 2020.
"As a community, if we can achieve the objectives set forth here today, our collective impact will be extraordinary. Extraordinary for our children, our children's families, our community members, and ultimately, our economy."
Geneva schools by the numbers
• 2,200 students currently attend Geneva city schools in grades K-12, with another 85 enrolled in the Head Start preschool program.
• There are 20 administrators, 243 teachers and 232 support staff working in the five buildings.
• Fifty-three percent of the districts student population is white, 22.7 percent is Hispanic, 14.3 percent is black, 8.4 percent is of mixed races and less than 2 percent are Asian or Native American.
• Almost 60 percent participate in the free and reduced lunch programs. In addition, 13.4 percent receive special education services, and 0.4 percent of students are considered homeless.
• The graduation rate in 2011-12 was 76 percent