Mold the Future for Stratford Education: Stratford Education Fund

by Tom Dillon

What skills will be required for Stratford’s students in the years to come?  What will make them successful in their careers?  What knowledge do they need to make the greatest impact on their lives and the lives of others? The answers to those questions are the focus of a community led initiative being implemented by The Stratford Education Fund.

Bob David, a community member and one of three facilitators for the Barr Foundation, is looking for community volunteers throughout our community to participate in a structured workshop for the next several months.  Three groups composed of educators, parents and local business people that will collaborate to create an outline for programs and priorities required for students to become successful in life and the workplace.

The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, they are guided by core values defined by their founders. “These values are fundamental to who we are and what we believe constitutes effective philanthropy.”

Volunteers are needed to kick the program off starting in December and will be meeting through March. The groups will share ideas and develop specific programs that will be presented to the Barr Foundation and the Stratford Board of Education by the Summer of 2021.

A few dozen communities have been selected across New England.  The Barr Foundation is not only providing the funds to conduct the initial community collaboration, but a handful of communities will be awarded a grant each year for four years in a row to implement the programs that they created.

Diversity Matters

Over 50 languages are spoken in Stratford homes and our community is made up of an incredible diversity of people.   Bob is urging every Stratford resident with an interest in the success of our youth to consider getting involved with the project to ensure that it represents our community in the broadest possible sense.  Based on current conditions with the pandemic, meetings are currently expected to be virtual and will meet numerous times per month.  There is even a small stipend available for participants.

The Stratford Education Fund is an outgrowth of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce’s oldest running program the Business and Education Support Team (BEST).  The BEST program has run for more than 30 years as a public private partnership between Stratford’s business community and the public schools.  The BEST program continues to provide “mini-grants” between 50 and 500 dollars which are put directly into teachers’ hands for small programs that go straight to Stratford’s classrooms. Every year awards are presented to teachers and students for being the “BEST” of Stratford.

The Stratford Education Fund was created to create more opportunities by going through the full process of registering as a IRS recognized 501(c)3 charitable foundation.  That long process was completed with extensive support of many community businesses, including the Milford Bank.

This is your opportunity to get involved and share your experience and perspective on the future of our students and community!  Anyone interested should reach out to Bob David at bobbydavid999@gmail.com.

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