For several months now, Tom Vander Ark has been issuing rich installments in his Smart Cities series, building a detailed map of where innovations in learning are happening. Here, we profile an organization connecting Smart Cities–the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust)–and its work helping city-based organizations support the emergence of high-quality blended learning.
CEE-Trust describes itself as “a network of city-based foundations, non-profits, and mayor’s offices that work together to support education innovation and reform.” Already at 28 members from coast to coast, CEE-Trust launched from Indianapolis-based education reform organization The Mind Trust in 2010, with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Joyce Foundation. The network was created “to ensure that cities around the country have local institutional champions that drive the education reform agenda forward,” Executive Director Ethan Gray said in a 2011 interview. “We believe that city-based organizations are an under-tapped resource, and can be better leveraged to align key constituents to support education innovation and reform.”
The network facilitates multicity collaboration by hosting convenings and working with members to document effective practices and lessons learned in member cities, and to analyze cutting-edge issues in policy and practice. CEE-Trust also works closely with its policy partners, the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The network and its leaders have developed a deep understanding of what it takes to catalyze education reform at the city level, as evidenced in the 2012 report Kick-Starting Reform–co-authored by CEE-Trust and Public Impact–which drew on profiles of three high-impact CEE-Trust members to identify lessons for reformers in other cities.
Subsets of CEE-Trust members belong to topic-specific working groups that meet several times a year to explore partnerships and seed collaborations. CEE-Trust’s current working groups focus on school governance reform, charter incubation, funding for education reform, and blended learning.