In 2007, EDvention was formed as a collaborative aimed at improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities for youth in Dayton, OH. In 2011, EDvention expanded its focus beyond STEM, becoming what is now Learn to Earn Dayton—the cradle-to-career initiative focused in Montgomery County. In 2015, Learn to Earn Dayton merged with Ready-Set-Soar, a readiness and reading proficiency program, and became part of the national network, StriveTogether, dedicated to improving educational outcomes and creating a more highly educated workforce. Learn to Earn Dayton has a goal that 60% of Montgomery County’s workforce will have a college degree or marketable credential by 2025. As a proof point systems change community, Learn to Earn Dayton is focused on improving equity and mitigating any educational gaps.
Learn to Earn Dayton is helping to promote equity and degree and certificate completion. They have an aggressive campaign to encourage greater FAFSA completion to make college more financially accessible. The campaign was started a few years ago and has already seen significant growth in completion rates, rising from 45% to a projected 66% in 2019. Learn to Earn also promotes degree completion by helping colleges to identify “stopped out” students, that is, students who were in good academic standing when they dropped out of a post-secondary program. Sinclair Community College had several thousand stopped-out students, and with the help of Learn to Earn, they were able to encourage nearly 500 to re-enroll.
Within primary and secondary schools, Learn to Earn Dayton is primarily focused on gaps that exist and what interventions may be employed to close these disparity gaps. To do that, they look to disaggregate and analyze data in conjunction with school districts. Learn to Earn identifies the size of the gap and how many students would be needed to close the gap entirely. For instance, in Montgomery County, in 2019-2020, if 264 more African American boys and 299 more African American girls were reading proficiently, the racial gap would be closed. Looking at these aggregate numbers can be overwhelming, so Learn to Earn works individually with school districts to identify the size of the gap, to determine how many students are on the bubble, and to identify what intensive interventions can be provided to close the gap one student at a time.
Learn to Earn is committed to engaging deeply within the community on difficult issues surrounding race, and has created 21 teams of equity fellows who have gone through intensive training to be equipped with a deep understanding of issues of equity, history of racism, and the kinds of interventions that can genuinely make a difference. The network runs listening sessions on equity within the community to receive input and feedback.
Moving forward, Learn to Earn Dayton will continue to strive for greater academic opportunity and attainment to create a more educated and skilled workforce. The network will remain focused on educational equity for all, primarily through engaging in community-wide discussion and closing the gaps in incremental and targeted ways.