SAM Receives Significant Project Funding - Media Release

Spartanburg Receives Project Funds through $20 Million Grant Program by National Nonprofit StriveTogether

The Spartanburg Academic Movement is one of nine winning initiatives that will tackle systems changes needed to improve outcomes for children across Spartanburg County.

 Spartanburg, SC — The Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) has been awarded one of nine Cradle to Career Community Challenge Opportunity Fund grants from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids.  Of StriveTogether’s 70 partnerships nationwide, SAM is one of nine members recognized for having changed local systems to benefit children.

This targeted investment funds the start-up of SAM’s Continuous Improvement Institute, a long-term project to embed continuous improvement practices in schools and educational non-profits across Spartanburg County. SAM is already working closely with the County’s seven school districts on this agenda, having launched a pilot continuous improvement training and coaching initiative within four county schools where poverty rates are the highest. 

“Start-up funding for the CI Institute will allow us to develop skills in defining, measuring, and acting quickly to introduce interventions to address challenges to learning; and having acted, to control, repeat, and refine the intervention cycle in seeking continuous improvement. CI practices, common in corporate and health care sectors, will enable practitioners in schools and non-profit sectors to better align interventions with students’ needs.” SAM Executive Director John Stockwell said. 

“With so many at work to improve opportunities for children in Spartanburg County, aligning continuous improvement practices with the efforts underway will give our partners the tools they need to know what’s working, and where to shift or expand their efforts for the greatest impact,” Beth Thompson, SAM’s Director of Continuous Improvement said. “This isn’t about changing what an organization offers; rather, it’s about ensuring that what an organization does has the greatest impact it can possibly have on our shared goals.” 

This Cradle to Career Community Challenge grant will provide support over a three-year period with increasing match requirements in order to build and expand County-wide local sustainability for the project. Grant funds will be used to hire and train project-specific staff and support the cost of launching continuous improvement training within Spartanburg County.

“Using the common language of data, we can create better, more equitable systems to improve outcomes for major milestones in every child’s life, StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “I’m excited Spartanburg Academic Movement will expand training in continuous improvement practices for local schools and nonprofits working to support children in the community.  Thorough efforts like the one in Spartanburg County, our Cradle to Career Community Challenge will enhance and expand the real, lasting results underway across our 70 communities.”

StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge will invest more than $20 million over the next three years, funding projects across the country that aim to shift public policy and engage the systems needed to help students progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a career. The Community Challenge seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The program’s goal is to strengthen and align the many systems, such as education, employment, health and housing, that shape opportunity for children and families in America.

Of the nine Opportunity Fund grant recipients, Spartanburg’s award was the only one made to a StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network member in the southeast.  Eight additional Opportunity Fund grants also have been awarded to network members in Central Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky; Dallas County, Texas; Dayton/Montgomery County, Ohio; Tacoma, Washington; Portland/Multnoma County, Oregon; Racine County, Wisconsin; and Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee.