Convening and Collaborating

The Support Fund’s strategy is based on growing insight into the power of intentional networks to catalyze and sustain social change. In the face of complex systems, single actors or organizations are hard pressed to have significant impact, much less hold the full picture of current circumstances or underlying conditions.

We convene and support a vibrant and diverse learning community of foundations, policymakers, and thought leaders who share a common commitment to lifting the learning and life outcomes of all children in America. Our goal is to facilitate greater connectivity, communication, and alignment among multi-stakeholder networks to realize the power of public education as the bedrock for an inclusive democracy and broadly shared prosperity.

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A Letter from Frank L. Gettridge: Arriving to NPESF with a vision of unity

September 2019

Dear NPESF Family,

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of the National Public Education Support Fund (NPESF).

As an educator with over 25 years of experience, I have dedicated my career working to improve the lives of underserved children and families. Growing up in New Orleans, in a very close-knit family, has been my proof that no one succeeds in life alone. As I have transitioned in my personal and professional life, including this new endeavor, I have embraced the truth that I would not have gotten this far alone. Someone mentored me along the way. Someone vouched for me along the way. Someone prayed for me along the way. Someone education me along the way. And someone believed in me along the way. My success has been the result of a larger community of persons investing in me along the way, and I say thank you by living with purpose, being a good example of a man, and investing in others along the way.

The idea of community, a group of people sharing common interests, goals, and beliefs, is what most attracted me to NPESF. Partnering with a group of diverse individuals investing in education and the well being of children and families, and coming together to learn how to invest better has been most gratifying to me. I have experienced the cultivation of an atmosphere of critical thinking, understanding, acceptance, empathy, and self-improvement. Moreover, our being together has brought about new energy, new perspectives, new friendships, and a belief that we can accomplish more together.

At a time when our world can feel more divided than united, it is critical that we continue our racial equity journey and fostering a community of togetherness and hope. Consequently, we must now see the opportunity of education as a solution to the chasms in society, personal and social. Like NPESF, education allows the space for diverse people to come and learn together, laugh together, grow together, and do together. The networks that are part of NPESF are already strong, advancing, and have high trust within them, so the next step is to build connectivity between EFSG, GTY, the Partnership, and working groups within each. The energy and strength of relationships within each of these communities is very noticeable and we should continue to make sure that the organizational home – NPESF – remains a strong, nurturing place of stewardship for these networks, vertically and horizontally aligning vision and values.

As the new Executive Director of NPESF, I offer you a vision of unity. Mattie Stepanek, a young poet who left this world before his time, said it best when he stated, “Unity is strength…where there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Achievement for NPESF is within our mission of promoting the opportunity for all children to receive an excellent education from birth through college and career. As a community, we have a unique opportunity to actualize a new path to educational equity as we are made up of funders working across the various spectrums of public education, including the traditional and non-traditional sectors. Accomplishing this will require us to examine more closely the root causes of our challenges, including historical, ideological and social factors. Equally important, we must continue to prioritize the voices and perspectives of the families and communities, young people, policymakers, educators and advocates who influence and are served by our public education system.

As we continue learning, planning, and doing together, I would like to share some initial priorities within my vision of unity:

  1. Operationalize a racial equity approach to convening and supporting this diverse learning community of foundations, policymakers, and educators. I will identify and partner with organizations to examine our approach in order to effectively discuss and address factors of race, class, gender and sexual orientation and their interaction with education in the United States. The future of the United States and our education system will be one characterized by multiculturalism and diversity. Consequently, it is critical that we understand the influence of race and connected factors on education and policy.
  2. Strengthen the mission and core values alignment across NPESF networks. Through observation, surveys, and discussions, we can develop greater coherence across networks and understand how we are collectively moving towards a shared mission with NPESF.
  3. Identify and create stronger linkages to NPESF’s global learning platform and the United States education system. Learning and sharing lessons across the globe can generate new ideas and innovations in education contributing to our education system delivering the knowledge and skills needed for students to be successful in a global economy.
  4. Strengthen the organizational capacity and effectiveness of NPESF. We are proud of the energy and strength of relationships within each community that NPESF holds, and we should continue to make sure that NPESF remains a strong, nurturing place of stewardship for these networks. That means strengthening the organizational processes and increase the resources needed to better serve and adapt to the needs of our networks and learning community.

During our recent presidential debates, very little substantive discussion has been about ideas to improve public education. As a result, we have an opportunity to lead in creating a shared vision for education, one characterized by promise and not problems, collaboration and not competition, equity and not inequity.

We must understand that getting an education should not be a competition for children and families. Instead, it should prepare them for a society already too characterized by competition. Through our collaborative actions we can create a vision of an improved education system, one that provides an example of unity and the strength of the collective. Let’s begin by seeing the opportunity in collaborative learning, collaborative planning, and collaborative action as we embark upon creating a new path toward educational equity. It’s a journey and it is not going to be easy, but I’m ready to take on this challenge with you!

Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of children and families!

Frank L. Gettridge, Ed.D.
Executive Director of the National Public Education Support Fund

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