Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and author of several books on 21st century teaching, skills, and education, will deliver a public lecture tomorrow at Holland Hall at 7:30 pm. The event will be held in the Branch Theatre of the Walter Arts Center, 5666 E. 81st St.

Holland Hall is working with Tulsa Public Schools to consider more effective practices in TPS high schools, including a look at Holland’s interdisciplinary American Studies program.

(Via Tulsa World.)


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Diama reminded me about a new innovation project out of Harvard called the Education Innovation Laboratory, or EdLab for short. We really should’ve copyrighted the term “innovation lab” I guess. If their project is as innovative and forward-thinking as the website, it’s going to be a great effort. From the vision statement:

We believe that applying an R&D model to education will give a way to unearth root causes of performance gaps, effectively evaluate options for reform, and achieve effective and transportable solutions.

Basically the lab will be a full-fledged R&D shop on education innovations with a very strong emphasis on the scientific method as an evaluation strategy. That means big, expensive randomized trials. I especially like the idea of a “Creative Roster” which is a sort of multi-disciplinary advisory committee. Who would be on our roster?

The CEO is a young economist named Roland G. Fryer, Jr., and the project has lots of other economists involved (including America’s favorite, Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame).  Which reminds me that it’s very interesting how involved economists have gotten in education: James Heckman, Roland Fryer, Cindy Decker, etc. (Cindy you’re welcome for putting you in such an esteemed group.)

Anyway keep an eye on this group to see what they come up with!

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One of Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge articles today discusses the hybrid social enterprise.


“Today, the United States has more than 1.4 million non-profit organizations, and they account for 5 percent of GDP. Annual contributions have grown faster than the economy for years, and experts predict an avalanche of cash ahead. By 2052, an estimated $6 trillion will flow directly to social enterprise organizations. Concurrently, a new generation of business leaders and philanthropists is experimenting with hybrid forms of social enterprises while demanding more transparency and accountability from the organizations they are funding. In Rangan’s view, the sector is poised on the brink of transformation, a topic he enthusiastically expounded upon during a recent interview in his Morgan Hall office.”

I will comment later this week. For now – food for thought.

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I can’t believe I am actually blogging. It feels like riding a bike on two wheels for the first time or getting up for a minute on the wind surfer, which is the best I ever did at that.

It should not be surprising that CAP is the cause for this new development in my life. Getting to know the work of CAP has been a source of awakenings throughout my life– whether it is the importance of early childhood education, the way an organization can transform the lives of thousands of people through the EITC effort, or added insight into how fiscal policy over the last 20 years has chipped away at the American Dream. CAP has always challenged me and brought me to new understandings about the world in which I live. So, bringing this work to the world through the blog is pure genious. Thank you Al Gore!

I work for one of CAP’s many partners in Tulsa and around the country— George Kaiser Family Foundation. We emphasize excellence in early childhood education as the best strategy to break the cycle of poverty. We developed that focus by way of research done by our donor, George Kaiser, and the amazing leadership of Annie Koppel VanHanken, who heads this core work area for GKFF.

But, as I have learned by working at GKFF, it does not matter how much financial capital is at your disposal it is simply impossible to make a difference unless you have partners on the ground who can implement your vision with excellence and integrity. CAP has been that for us–and more– every step of the way.

The proposed work of the Tulsa Initiative is exciting. I plan to follow it closely and learn from its unfolding. I hope that the work we have initiated with the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University can play an important role in the project. GKFF has developed a project with Dr. Jack Shonkoff, who runs the Harvard Center, to assist GKFF and CAP in the next generation of excellence in early childhood education and in anti-poverty efforts. Jack talks about bridging the gap between what we “know” and what we “do.” For a guy from Harvard, he makes sense. And when he and Steven Dow get together, I always expect lightning to strike given the brilliance and dynamism that both personify.

Jack and his team plan to work closely with CAP and with the newly-created University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, which is ably led by Dr. Gerry Clancy. Ideally, these partners— CAP, Harvard, OU (tall cotton indeed)– with our help can make some positive things happen in the lives of thousands of low income Tulsans that otherwise might not occur.

Again, I salute CAP-TC and deeply appreciate the enormously important role it plays in Tulsa and, by its leadership in the field, the country. The Tulsa Initiative promises a new and important chapter in CAP’s journey. And, lastly, thanks for inviting me to blog. I could get into a habit of this.

Ken Levit is Executive Director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Thanks for checking us out. As you can see, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks posting some (what we think are) interesting items and updates related to two potentially very different topics: fighting poverty, and doing innovation. The Tulsa Initiative was actually born out of a merger of the two. It was created by people at Community Action Project (an anti-poverty agency) who are committed to thinking innovatively about breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. We are also firm believers in research and research-based approaches. Our postings will reflect these perspectives, and, we hope, elicit the sharing of ideas among readers.

We feel very strongly that no single agency can tackle what we are trying to tackle on its own. So our other goal for the Tulsa Initiative is that it truly become a TULSA initiative. We want to help build networks of service providers who want to come together around the common goal of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty in Tulsa. We’ll need a network that covers a whole range of services — such as early childhood education, health care, mental health care, job skills training, and asset building. But we’ll suggest that the network be strategic in how it approaches the problem.

For example, research is clear that quality early childhood education has a number of positive effects on the development of disadvantaged children. Our hypothesis, then, is that a comprehensive anti-povery effort should begin with the children who are already benefitting from early education. The investment being made in them is huge, so let’s leverage that with other services research tells us could be beneficial.

That’s the idea, anyway. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments, and we hope that you think about becoming part of the effort. C’mon back and visit us – each day this week you’ll hear from a key player in our work to date.

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