|Foundation Expands Influence through Corporate Memberships, New Board Members and Expanded Work with UVA's Partnership for Leaders in Education|
The South Florida Community Leadership Foundation (SFCLF) today announced that it has gained significant momentum, financial backing and leadership to drive its mission of enriching the teaching and learning environment in South Florida schools. The Foundation has welcomed three new corporate memberships, named the superintendent of Broward and Palm Beach counties to its Board and expanded programs with the University of Virginia's Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE).
With the focus on improving consistently low-performing schools by empowering the school system executive leadership with cutting edge business tools and techniques, the SFCLF, Broward county school district and the PLE have joined forces to launch PLE's proven and groundbreaking Turnaround Specialist Program. The program provides turnaround specialist principals and their school and district teams with executive development that will support their efforts to dramatically improve student achievement. The Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program - which began in 2004 as one of Governor Mark Warner's Education for a Lifetime initiatives with generous support from Microsoft's Partners in Learning program - supports Florida school districts' focus on closing achievement gaps through programs that use proven education methods and emphasize stronger accountability for results as outlined by the national No Child Left Behind Act.
The SFCLF, established by Citrix Systems in 2003, is able to sponsor this pioneering program thanks to the growing ranks of South Florida businesses that have pledged their support and through strong partnerships with the education community. Joining the Foundation are the Mary & Robert Pew Public Education Fund, Regions Bank and JM Family Enterprises Inc., which have each made substantial financial commitments to the SFCLF. Citrix has issued a challenge grant of up to $500,000 to match contributions and encourage even broader participation by local and national organizations through 2008.
In addition, Broward County Superintendent Dr. Frank Till and Palm Beach County Superintendent Dr. Arthur Johnson have joined the Foundation's board of directors to provide their executive leadership and direction to the board. This leadership will be critical in enabling the Foundation to understand and support the requirements and priorities of South Florida school districts as they carry out their 2006-2008 plans.
"The collaboration among the SFCLF, our local school districts, the PLE and individual schools shows that our focus goes beyond developing lone leaders, to extend to leaders within the larger contexts of our school systems, businesses and the rest of the community," said Superintendent Till. "The SFCLF exemplifies how we can bring various organizations together to create meaningful change."
"SFCLF provides strong leadership, collaboration and financial backing for programs that use best practices from both the business and education worlds to drive systemic and sustainable change within the school systems," said Superintendent Johnson.
Florida education demonstrates a mix of successes and challenges in a state that received an "A" rating from Education Week for school standards and quality but also ranks 47th out of 50 in per-student spending. Broward county school district is the sixth largest school district in the country. Across the state, reading, math and SAT scores have risen. Educators are implementing programs like the Turnaround Specialist Program to jump start improvements in consistently low performing schools.
"Giving back to the community is a fundamental and important part of our company's culture," said Pat Moran, chairman of JM Family Enterprises. "With children and families being a strong focus of our philanthropic efforts, supporting the SFCLF is an ideal way for us to make a lasting difference in the lives of others and impact the future of South Florida for decades to come. We are committed to helping the SFCLF because we believe that there is no better investment than in the education of tomorrow's leaders."
"As an education foundation ourselves, we understand what can be achieved when multiple businesses join together to focus a collective power and energy to drive change," said Louise Grant, Executive Director of the Mary & Robert Pew Public Education Fund. "It is time for more local and national businesses to step up to the plate and make a serious commitment."
"Public school quality is an urgent issue for our community and businesses and requires our direct involvement," said Val A. Perez, Palm Beach County City President of Regions Bank. "Through the SFCLF, we are empowering school system leaders with business management tools and techniques that enrich the teaching and learning environment in South Florida schools."
The Turnaround Specialist Program will provide an executive education program specifically designed for the needs of a cadre of South Florida educators who are charged with turning around consistently low-performing schools. The program focuses on leadership challenges, strategic change, decision-making, communications, and partnering, and establishes targets and metrics to drive achievement and measure results.
The SFCLF has its roots in Citrix's commitment to make the South Florida business community a catalyst for real and lasting change in education. The company established the SFCLF in March 2003 and has invested $760,000 in education programs through SFCLF since that time. Nearly 300 educators have completed training programs sponsored by SFCLF to date. The company has pledged an additional $500,000 as a challenge grant to encourage companies to participate to take SFCLF to the next level.
The SFCLF has a longstanding relationship with the Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia. A joint venture between UVA's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and the Curry School of Education, the partnership merges best practices from the disciplines of education and business to create innovative executive development experiences for senior leaders of school organizations and their business and community partners. The program has achieved demonstrated success in the Commonwealth of Virginia and other states. Moreover, thanks to funding from Microsoft's Partners in Learning Program, research will be conducted in the upcoming year regarding implementation of the Turnaround Specialist Program in Broward County.
About the South Florida Community Leadership Foundation
The South Florida Community Leadership Foundation (SFCLF) is a community based 501 c3 non-profit organization dedicated to building and enhancing the executive leadership capacity and development of the District Superintendents and their staff in South Florida. This effort is a major catalyst in driving systemic change within the school systems that will lead to greater student achievement and overall school improvement.
The SFCLF is dedicated to bringing together a broad base of community and business partners with financial and volunteer support to provide best-in-class business executive leadership development for school district executives in South Florida. For more information, contact 954-267-2312.