Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) has accepted a mission that may seem impossible, but it doesn’t involve Tom Cruise or secret agents. At this year’s national StriveTogether Cradle to Career Convening, “Mission Possible: Agents of Transformational Change,” Lindsay Moore, SAM’s Director of Communications, and Beth Thompson, Director of Collaborative Action Networks, willshare expertise in a workshop entitled “Planning and Implementing Effective Communications Using StriveTogether’s Communication Toolkit.”

“It is an honor to be asked by StriveTogether to present at their national convening. They like what we do, so they are giving us the opportunity to share our successes with other communities. Presenting will increase SAM’s visibility and credibility on a national scale, which is really exciting for Spartanburg,” says Lindsay Moore.

The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network brings together cross-sector leaders who are committed to improving education outcomes for kids. Representing more than 60 community partnerships in 32 states and Washington, D.C., more than 350 attendees at the sold-out event will share their work to unite communities around shared goals, measures and results in education.

SAM works to improve education for students throughout Spartanburg County, bringing together more than 200 Partners. Together, these partners have united around six shared goals that impact educational outcomes from cradle to career.

“These Cradle to Career Network members champion this work in their communities, and SAM will share successes and failures to benefit the larger mission of ensuring educational success for every student,” StriveTogether Managing Director Jeff Edmondson said. “Fellow Network partnerships will walk away with concrete actions they can take to progress their work at home.”

Throughout the three day convening, attendees will explore and discuss education equity, continuous improvement, community engagement and other topics that directly affect their work.

SAM Replicates National Model

Beginning in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky six years ago, more than 300 leaders of local organizations decided to focus on a region-wide approach to improving student achievement. They named their collaboration “StriveTogether … Every Child, Cradle to Career.”

Rather than adding services or programs, “Strive” built upon existing assets. Its impact came from a shared commitment to data-defined targets of academic achievement at every level. Partnership agreements were signed by educators, corporate leaders, foundations, governments, and faith communities.

“Strive” Partners focused their attention on a single set of goals and shared performance indicators. They discussed progress, learned from each other, and aligned efforts to achieve their goals.

Managed by a board and a small staff, “Strive” supported “collaborative action networks” of educators and partners across sectors, pursuing specific performance targets.

Six years later, “Strive” is achieving what it has been measuring, including a 9% rise in kindergarten readiness, an 11% increase in high school graduation, and a 10% increase in college enrollment.

Recently, the “Strive” model has been adopted by other communities across the country ( Early leaders include Milwaukee, Portland, Twin Cities, Dayton, Dallas, Albuquerque, and a few others. 

At present, there are over 75 “Strive Together” network member communities. Spartanburg County is among the early affiliates. SAM recently received certification as an “emerging” cradle to career partnership.