CEI and Partners Launch Systemic Supports for Educators in Historic Education Crisis

July 28, 2020

To support districts and schools to address the serious disparities in the reopening of our education system and the crisis-level disruption of traditional learning systems, today the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) announces the Strategic Reopening Collaborative and the Reconnected Learning Hub.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our education structures, first by suspending the 2019-2020 school year and next by introducing historic uncertainty into the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. CEI believes that relationships, equity, and connection must be guiding principles as we address the trauma, challenges, and opportunities of COVID-19. To address this historic challenge in the education sector, CEI is launching efforts to reinforce strong practices and create networked learning across the state and partnering with funders to make the plans real. 

Strategic Reopening Collaborative is a dynamic learning partnership built to work directly with innovative districts, national partners, and local leaders on how best to re-open schools through a social-emotional and relationship-driven lens. This past June, CEI facilitated a design sprint with 10 districts across Colorado to think about how to re-open through four frames: Connect, Assess & Prepare, Reassure & Inspire and Address Inequities. Districts assembled teams of educators, school leaders and partners to build 90 Day Re-Entry Plans anchored in relationship-rich ecosystems. The result was a constellation of inspiring strategies and shareable resources that can be of service to districts across Colorado and the country. 

“Through participating in the design sprint, Greeley schools had the chance to spend more time developing and designing our equity strategy to build real capacity in schools and classrooms. As we re-open schools and return back, centering equity, culture, and opportunity must be at the forefront.”

Jesse Tijerina
Director of Cultural Excellence, Greeley-Evans School District 6 

Reconnected Learning Hub, supported through a generous grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, builds on the success of the Healthy Schools Hub and allows educators and practitioners to share resources across the state. An online platform that allows users to share resources, create groups and share information, the Reconnected Learning Hub allows educators to join forces to support students. Joining CEI in this endeavor is Climb Higher Colorado, a coalition membership organization working to promote family engagement and partnership across the state.

“We are thrilled to support a coalition bringing educator-driven resources to promote connection and relationships during this time of distance and disruption,” said Hillary Fulton, senior program officer at The Colorado Health Foundation. “This work is paramount, especially for young people experiencing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 due to race, ethnicity, geography, income, and more.” 

CEI believes that this crisis should prompt us to change our normal way of operating. CEI is proud to work with funders like Caring for Colorado (CFC), who understand the gravity of the current situation and are willing to adjust their long-term strategies to support educators and students today. After seeing the result of the design sprint and understanding the community need, CFC encouraged districts in its Youth Connections initiative to apply for funding ahead of schedule to support a social-emotional anchored re-entry back to school. For additional impact, CFC also asked districts to address systemic inequities in their plans. The foundation awarded more than $100,000 to Sheridan Schools and Alamosa Schools to support their community-driven re-entry anchored in relationships and health. 

“Caring for Colorado values forward-thinking districts that invest in and incorporate trauma-informed practices, integrated mental health care services and resiliency resources. It was critical to the foundation to fund re-entry plans that intentionally address racial disparities and systemic inequities and meet the wide-ranging needs of students and educators during this unprecedented time,” said Linda Reiner, CEO and President of Caring for Colorado. 

“The Colorado education community is facing a challenge unlike any before and traditional guidance and planning approaches just won’t cut it,” said CEI President and CEO Rebecca Holmes. “We are inspired in this moment to reject business as usual and stand shoulder to shoulder with practitioners who are committed to meeting the needs of families and students. The Strategic Reopening Collaborative and the Reconnected Learning Hub further innovation in the field by both highlighting consequential strategies and creating real platforms for exchange throughout this unprecedented school year. And these inspiring additional investments from the funding community make it possible for districts to achieve these goals.” 

Learn more about the Strategic Reopening Collaborative.

Visit coloradohub.org to join the Reconnected Learning Hub