This problem will be addressed by Leadership Akron as a part of the Civic Solutions Lab, which is opening applications this month. The new effort will bring leaders together across sectors to help tackle a community challenge with an eye toward developing new ideas and strategies.
Modeled after a similar program offered by Leadership Louisville Center, the project is a pilot effort with seed funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Civic Solutions Lab will welcome applications both from Leadership Akron graduates and from leaders in the broader community looking to make a difference.
After weighing a number of possible issues, a design team of civic leaders has identified early childhood education as the issue of focus for the inaugural Civic Solutions Lab class. Leadership Akron notes that one in three children in Summit County are not on track for success when they begin kindergarten, and children who start out behind in school often never catch up.
Leaders from across sectors will apply change management models and their own knowledge and skills to explore strategies with the goal of fostering positive change that will result in more of Summit County’s children becoming kindergarten-ready. With insight from partner organizations such as Summit Education Initiative, Civic Lab participants will focus on potential strategies to expand access and participation in quality early childhood education for Summit County’s youngest citizens.
For Knight Foundation, “The Civic Solutions Lab will help to engage leadership talent across generations, while encouraging leaders to take hold of the future of their city,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation program director for Akron.
From Leadership Akron’s standpoint, “The Civic Solutions Lab reflects our strategic priority of becoming more proactive in connecting the leaders we serve to community needs,” said Mark Scheffler, president of Leadership Akron. The inaugural class of the Civic Solutions Lab will have the opportunity to research the landscape of early childhood education both locally and nationally; identify possible strategies and evaluate their viability in the Akron area; and finally developing recommendations and working with local partners to advance their recommendations on the local scene.
Through funding from Knight Foundation, Civic Lab will serve up to 20 participants in its pilot phase in 2017. Applications are open now, with an application deadline of Nov. 14. An outreach committee of Leadership Akron graduates and partners in the field of early childhood education will choose the charter class.
For info, visit www.leadershipakron.org.