SAM is part of a  National Network

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

Rather than adding services or programs, the organization, now known as Strive Partnership, 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. 

Goals were defined: 

  1. Every child is PREPARED for school
  2. Every child is SUPPORTED inside and outside of school
  3. Every child SUCCEEDS academically
  4. Every child ENROLLS in some form of post-secondary education
  5. Every child GRADUATES and ENTERS A CAREER

“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. 

Those early efforts led to other communities seeking to replicate the "Strive" model within their own communities.  The result was a new organization, StriveTogether, leading and building a network of communities across the nation working to use this proven model to create local impact.  

In 2017, with 68 national network members employing the strategies outlined in the StriveTogether Theory of Action with community identified and driven cradle to career action points, StriveTogether adopted it's new strategic plan for the work and received significant funding for the effort from Ballmer Group, led by Steve and Connie Ballmer.  The work has been supported by multiple national funders and research agencies that remain engaged in the work. 


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SAM’s Certification as a “Systems Change" and "PROOF POINT" Member

In June 2018, The Spartanburg Academic Movement received its designation as both a "Systems Change" and "Proof Point" partnership in the StriveTogether Network.

“Since joining the Cradle to Career Network in 2013, Spartanburg Academic Movement has been a champion for children in Spartanburg County,” said StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz. “Through Spartanburg Academic Movement’s leadership and hard work, partners from business, government, education and nonprofits are making measurable differences for students and families. The Network’s approach to improving education is getting results across the country, and Spartanburg County is clearly part of that success story.”

After a five-year journey to deeply embed StriveTogether Network practices to produce results for Spartanburg County, a team of StriveTogether evaluators met with more than a dozen community members to assess SAM's community impact related to changing systems in the county.

 “This top designation from StriveTogether is of great importance,” Spartanburg Academic Movement Executive Director John Stockwell said. “It not only acknowledges our work — it recognizes the progress of our entire county toward shared goals of improved academic achievement. This has been accomplished with the deep dedication of our public schools and multiple community partners. Consistently improving outcomes year to year will require sharper focus on the economic mobility of all students and families across boundaries of region, race and income — a focus embedded within our ongoing efforts across Spartanburg County.”

And in fact, as SAM receives those designations as an organization, the national network recognizes Spartanburg County as "Systems Change" and "Proof Point" community, recognizing that the integral partnership between the organization and county-wide partners are what make the impact - for every child, cradle to career, possible. 

SAM earned the "Systems Change" and "Proof Point" designations.  The June 2018 announcement served as a major milestone, yet also a challenge for the next Network goal "Systems Transformation."


The features of SAM that energize the superintendents of Spartanburg’s seven school districts are the Partnership Agreements signed by an increasingly large number of corporations, non-profits, government leaders, and faith communities across the County, all committing their support to our efforts to drive academic achievement numbers upward.
— Dr. Ron Garner, Superintendent, Spartanburg School District One