The Mississippi Institute for School Transformation is a multi-year community development project initiated in 2016 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It is designed to help community members craft recommendations and campaigns for educational change derived from their lived experiences with public education and community life. IDEA is leading a four-phase process to gather community stories, develop engagement skills, assist in campaign development, and support campaign implementation. The intended outcome is to strengthen advocacy and craft campaigns that result in better outcomes for all students. The Institute will support place-based teams and local leaders in multiple regions of Mississippi to develop the skills to operate autonomously beyond our support. IDEA is partnering with key community organizations to carry out this work, including Springboard to Opportunities and the HOPE Policy Institute.
Currently we are working with a group of parents in Jackson, Mississippi, and engaging with young people and policy-makers in the Mississippi Delta considering the idea of building a Mayor’s Youth Council.
Throughout this project, community dinners serve as a central gathering time for conversation, brainstorming, and training. Coming together around a table, as well as providing childcare for parents with young kids, brings in a natural community space that helps to draw out real stories and experiences. The dinners also are a time to bring in those experienced with educational leadership, policy, and community change to support the group’s development.