Rich Raimondi: Collaboration can bring real change for community’s youth

December 13, 2013 

Many factors can prevent a youth from seeking and completing education after high school. Daunting forms. Financial challenges. Insufficient support at home. Lack of belief in his or her potential.

In the Treasure Valley Education Partnership, leaders from various sectors are cultivating a unique partnership to minimize these challenges and maximize our children’s opportunities. It’s about advancing a world-class education system that leads all students to their career of choice.

TVEP is an unprecedented collaboration that focuses on a shared vision for our community: every child, every step of the way, cradle to career. Post high school involvement is affected by early education efforts, late high school support and everything in between. That’s why providing help at all stages of the education continuum is so important.

TVEP’s uniquely comprehensive vision complements a very specific goal: for 80 percent of Treasure Valley students to go on to and complete post high school education by 2016 and beyond. Unfortunately, only 25 percent of 2005 high school graduates had attained a degree as of 2011.

Significant improvement in the college and trade-school graduation rate is vital for the long-term health of our valley. By 2020, more than 60 percent of Idaho jobs will require a career certificate or college degree.

We’re optimistic about the future, though. TVEP is different than most other education projects because it brings together all sorts of groups who had been working alone toward a similar goal. Now these organizations are on board with the same statistics and goal, and their resources are pooled.

TVEP took root when the Valley’s district superintendents reached out to talk with Idaho Business for Education, United Way of Treasure Valley and the YMCA. Two years later, the partnership includes leadership from various sectors, including business, nonprofit, K-12 education, higher education, local government and foundations.

It’s a nonpartisan, nonprofit project led by people who want to see the best available ideas and resources maximized. Those resources include funding by United Way of Treasure Valley, TVEP’s “backbone organization;” Wells Fargo; JPMorgan Chase; and the Wharton Foundation.

Each of those companies committed additional funding after seeing the project’s early success. They were encouraged by TVEP’s teams of experts working toward evidence-based projects within six focus areas along the education continuum.

In fact, the first in-school TVEP project is coming soon: an inter-school competition centered on completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Acronyms are prone to languish. Collaborative partnerships such as TVEP can create lasting change.

Rich Raimondi is president of Bishop Kelly High School and chair of the Treasure Valley Education Partnership.

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